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Supreme Court shoots down NY rule that set high bar for concealed handgun licenses

The Supreme Court Thursday ruled 6-3 that New York’s regulations that made it difficult to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun were unconstitutionally restrictive, and that it should be easier to obtain such a license.

The existing standard required an applicant to show “proper cause” for seeking a license, and allowed New York officials to exercise discretion in determining whether a person has shown a good enough reason for needing to carry a firearm. Stating that one wished to protect themselves or their property was not enough.

“In this case, petitioners and respondents agree that ordinary, law-abiding citizens have a similar right to carry handguns publicly for their self-defense. We too agree, and now hold, consistent with Heller and McDonald, that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the Court’s opinion. “Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution.”

The case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, was the first major gun rights case before the Supreme Court in more than a decade. 

During oral arguments it seemed likely that the court’s conservative justices would rule against the state.

“Why isn’t it good enough to say I live in a violent area and I want to defend myself?” Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked.

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In an exchange with Justice Samuel Alito, New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood recognized that if an applicant stated that the leave work late at night and have to walk from a subway station through a high-crime neighborhood to get home, that person would be denied because they did not cite a specific threat.

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“How is that consistent with the core right to self-defense?” Alito asked, stating that this is at the core of the Second Amendment.

Conservatives did indicate that it would be reasonable to have limits on where one could bring a concealed firearm.

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

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