The US Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling Thursday, struck down key provisions of New York State’s firearms law, one of the nation’s most restrictive, making it easier for licensed owners to bring concealed handguns into public spaces.
The high court, split along its usual ideological lines, ruled New York’s framework for granting concealed-carry handgun permits, gives too much discretion to licensing officers, usually a local judge or law enforcement agency, in violation of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.
The decision will almost certainly mean more handguns in public spaces, especially in New York City, where unrestricted carrying permits are especially hard to obtain. New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Hawaii and California are among a handful of states with similar rules, likely forcing looser restrictions there as well.
New York officials have long credited the state’s strict permitting regime as a key to maintaining public safety in densely populated areas, none more so than New York City, statistically one of the nation’s safest big cities, not withstanding pandemic-era rises in gun violence.
New York will now have to fall in line with carrying laws in place in more than 42 states, where concealed-carry permits are decided by an objective test, such as the applicant’s meeting minimum age and background checks, or where no carrying permit is required at all by licensed handgun owners.
Read more: An upcoming Supreme Court ruling could mean more handguns in public places.
The ruling builds upon a 2008 Supreme Court decision that found a constitutional right under the Second Amendment to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense. The court now emphatically extends that right into public places, forcing officials in tight gun-control states to adjust—even as the nation recoils from a string of high-profile mass shootings.