The US Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Americans have a fundamental right to carry firearms in public in a landmark decision that will prevent states from restricting people from carrying guns.
The 6-3 ruling, which comes as the country grapples with a shocking surge in gun crime, strikes down a New York law that required a person to prove they had legitimate self-defense needs to receive a gun permit.
“The Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry guns for self-defense outside the home,” said Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion.
“New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear guns in public for self-defense.”
New Yorkers slam ‘stupid’ gun ruling
From the streets of New York to the corridors of Congress, Americans expressed both outrage and delight at the Supreme Court’s striking down of a guns law Thursday, reflecting the country’s bitter divide.
New York’s governor Kathy Hochul said the decision marked a “dark day,” while Big Apple mayor Eric Adams said it “may have opened an additional river feeding the sea of gun violence.”
“It’s stupid. It’s just stupid,” New Yorker Sushmita Peters told AFP in Hunter’s Point, in the Big Apple borough of Queens.
“People look at people in power to feel safe. And that’s not something you feel when they’re making decisions like this,” added the 23-year-old, emergency room worker.
Nearby, 38-year-old Laurent Baud said the decision was particularly perplexing coming so soon after deadly mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas.
“It’s a little worrisome that more and more people can carry guns,” he said.
Christy, a 32-year-old security guard in Manhattan who declined to give her surname, said she feared it would bring “high crime to the area.”
“Honestly, people are not that mentally stable out here,” she told AFP.
New York officials lined up to slam the move, warning that it would undermine public safety and pledging to introduce legislation to mitigate the ruling.
Governor Hochul, a Democrat, branded it “absolutely shocking,” and accused the six judges whose majority ensured the ruling of acting “recklessly.”
“We can have restrictions on speech — you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater but somehow there’s no restrictions allowed on the Second Amendment,” she said, referring to the constitutional amendment allowing Americans the right to bear arms.
Adams, who was elected late last year on a platform to make New York City safer, said the ruling “will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence.”
He and Hochul both pledged to review their options.
“We will work together to mitigate the risks this decision will create once it is implemented, as we cannot allow New York to become the Wild West,” said Adams, also a Democrat.
The court’s ruling will curb the ability of other states who have similar laws, such as California from carrying guns in public.
“This is a dangerous decision from a court hell-bent on pushing a radical ideological agenda and infringing on the rights of states to protect our citizens from being gunned down in our streets, schools, and churches. Shameful,” tweeted California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Party colleagues in the federal government echoed the concerns.
“Make no mistake: this decision will put more people at risk of injury or death due to gun violence,” tweeted Congressman Ro Khanna.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal described the Supreme Court as “out of touch with America” and facing “a legitimacy crisis.”
Republicans praised the decision, with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweeting that the ruling “rightfully ensures the right of all law-abiding Americans to defend themselves without unnecessary government interference.”
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,” said Markwayne Mullin.
The Second Amendment Foundation, which campaigns for gun rights, said it was “gratified” by the “long-overdue affirmation that the right to bear arms exists outside the home.”
There was also some support on the streets of New York City, whose nine million residents overwhelmingly lean liberal.
“It’s a good idea. Self-defense, you can save yourself. Somebody knows you have a gun, they will care,” 75-year-old Sam, who declined to give his surname, told AFP.