The Supreme Court of the United States declared for the first time this Thursday that the US Constitution protects a person’s right to carry a firearm in public for self-defensemarking a historic victory for gun rights advocates in a deeply divided country on how to address gun violence.
The 6-3 ruling, with the court’s conservative justices in the majority and liberals dissenting, struck down New York state’s limits on carrying concealed firearms outside the home. The court found that the law, enacted in 1913, violated people’s right to “to keep and bear arms” under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The ruling, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, stated that the Constitution protects “the right of an individual to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home.”
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Thomas added: “We are not aware of any other constitutional rights that an individual can exercise only after demonstrating to government officials some special need.”
New York’s restriction is unconstitutional because “it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms,” Thomas added.
The judges overturned a lower court ruling rejecting an appeal against the law filed by two gun owners and the New York affiliate of the National Rifle Associationan influential gun rights advocacy group closely aligned with Republicans.
The decision represents the court’s most important statement on gun rights in more than a decade. In 2008, the court first recognized an individual’s right to keep guns at home for personal defense in a District of Columbia case, and in 2010 applied that right to the states.
The ruling could lead to many more people getting concealed carry licenses in the stateundermine similar restrictions in other states, and jeopardize other types of state and local restrictions on firearms across the country by requiring judges to examine them with a more skeptical eye under the Constitution.
The ruling says New York’s concealed weapons regime is at odds with the text and history of the Second Amendment and with the way gun rights have been protected throughout US history.
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