- BBC News World
June 23, 2022
The United States Supreme Court upheld the right of citizens to carry firearms on the streets.
The high court annulled this Thursday, with 6 votes in favor and 3 against, a law that restricted the possession of weapons on public roads in the state of New York.
Until now, carrying a firearm in that state required a special license and to obtain it was necessary show good cause.
Similar laws exist in other states such as California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
It is hoped that the Supreme Court ruling can be used to cancel those restrictive laws throughout the countrywhich would affect a quarter of the estimated 330 million Americans.
Thus, any person with a license to have firearms could legally go out with them in some of the main cities of the country, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco or Boston.
Representing the majority that backed the Supreme Court ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the Constitution protects “the right of an individual to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home.”
Thus, it considered that requiring citizens to show just cause to exercise it in New York violates the second amendment of the Magna Carta.
This amendment, drafted in 1791 and whose interpretation is currently the subject of debate, includes “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
Setback for gun control
The ruling marks a setback for efforts to toughen gun regulations underway in the US Congress and Senate, after several mass shootings with dozens of deaths in recent months.
Among them was particularly tragic the massacre of Uvalde (Texas)in which an 18-year-old boy entered a school with a rifle and killed 19 children and 2 teachers.
The ruling is historic since so far the Supreme Court had only ruled once on the right to bear arms.
It was in 2008, in the famous District of Columbia v. Heller case, that he upheld the right of Americans to keep guns in their homes for self-defense.
this time was the National Rifle Association (NRA), the influential lobby pro-arms of the country, which took the case to court.
These rulings in favor of those who defend the possession of weapons make it difficult, according to experts, for the judges of the Supreme Court to change course in the future and interpret the Constitution in a more restrictive way with respect to this particular right.
Reactions: from condemnation to celebration
One of the three justices who voted against, Justice Breyer, argued that so far in 2022 gun violence has claimed a significant number of lives in the US.
“Since the beginning of this year alone, 277 mass shootings have already been reported, an average of more than one per day,” he alleged.
The President of the United States, Joe Biden, claimed to be “deeply disappointed” by the judgment of the Supreme Court.
He assured that the ruling “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should concern us all.”
New York officials, including Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, also condemned the high court’s decision.
Hochul called it “scandalous that at a time of national debate over gun violence, the Supreme Court has recklessly struck down a New York law that placed limitations on those who can carry concealed weapons,” Hochul criticized.
The Mayor of New York, Eric Adams, assured that will review other ways to restrict access to weaponssuch as toughening the application process to buy firearms and evaluating bans in certain places.
For its part, the National Rifle Association celebrated the historic sentence.
“The right to self-defense and to defend family and loved ones should not end at home. This ruling provides law-abiding Americans with life-saving justice,” Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, said in a statement.
The mighty gun lobby assisted the plaintiffsRobert Nash and Brandon Koch, two New Yorkers who had applied for a permit to carry weapons on the street, but were denied despite having licenses to possess recreational weapons.
In the United States there are more than 390 million guns registered in civilian names.
only in 2020 more than 45,000 Americans died for firearm-related injuries, including homicides and suicides.
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