The Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a New York gun authorization law has sent states with heavy gun restrictions scrambling to respond on two fronts: figuring out what concealed-carry measures they might impose, while preparing to defend a wide range of gun control policies.
The language of the court’s majority opinion intensified concerns that other state laws, from setting an age limit on gun purchases to banning high-capacity ammunition magazines, may now be in jeopardy.
“The court has invited open hunting season against our gun control laws, so I anticipate litigation across the board,” said New Jersey Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin, a Democrat.
“We are going to defend our gun laws tooth and nail because these gun laws save lives,” he added.
An employee of a gun store in Hempstead, New York, shows one of the available models. Photo: AP
The court ruling issued on Thursday specifically struck down a New York law which had been in place since 1913 and required people applying for a concealed carry permit to demonstrate a specific need to have a gun in public, such as proof of an imminent threat to their safety.
The court’s conservative majority said that violated the Second Amendment, which it interprets as protecting people’s right to carry a gun for self-defense outside the home.
While the ruling does not address any other laws, the majority opinion opens the door for gun rights advocates challenge them in the futuresaid Alex McCourt, director of legal research at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions.
Pro-gun groups in several states said they plan to do just that.
A court ruling endorsed the free carrying of weapons in the United States. Photo: AP
Attorney Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle and Pistol Association, said that the group is preparing to expand its legal challenges on the grounds that the high court has changed the legal criteria used to assess whether gun control laws are constitutional.
Courts must now only assess whether a gun control regulation is consistent with the text of the Second Amendment and its historical interpretation, according to Thursday’s ruling.
Previously, judges could also take into account a state’s social justification for enacting a gun control law.
Michel said the rule will affect three important California laws. Legal challenges to the state’s limits on assault weapons, its requirement for background checks on ammunition purchases and its ban on online ammunition sales are pending in a federal appeals court.
“All these laws should be annulled according to this new criterion of the Supreme Court,” he said.
The Supreme Court is also considering reviewing California’s law banning ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds, as well as a similar law in New Jersey.
Michel envisions that the court could assess those rules under the new standard.
A long legal battle is expected in the US states over gun control. Photo: AP
The restrictive new landscape for gun control laws outlined in Thursday’s majority opinion is not without loopholes for states, especially those that want to impose some limits on concealed carry permits.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, said states can still require people to get a gun license and condition it on requirements like background checks and mental health medical history.
They can also limit where guns are allowed, implying that states can ban firearms in “sensitive places” like schools, courthouses or polling places.
This opens an opportunity for state governors and legislators from New York and the other six states with similar concealed carry laws: California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
The control of the sale and carrying of weapons raises a tough debate in the US. Photo: AP
In California, lawmakers are changing the law to expand the requirements people must meet to get a concealed carry permit and to define where guns would be prohibited. The revised bill will have its first hearing on Tuesday, and lawmakers hope to send it quickly to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has called Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling shameful.
Other Democratic governors, legislators and attorneys general have also pledged to uphold or amend their gun laws.
Most state legislatures are closing their sessions or have already closed, so any answers will likely have to wait until next year.
Rhode Island Democratic state Rep. Robert Craven, who is a lawyer, said he would study the opinion in the New York case to determine whether or not he raises concerns that Rhode Island’s requirements could be challenged and whether that can be remedied. through laws.
He wondered if the high court will now use a strict interpretation of the Second Amendment – that the right to bear arms is absolute – and apply it to other laws, such as those that prohibit military-style weapons.
“I see the court moving in that direction,” Craven said.
In Hawaii, Democratic state Sen. Chris Lee said lawmakers will try to figure out how else they can ensure public safety and will look at screening, requiring training requirements and implementing measures to keep guns out of certain public places, provisions that, according to the judges of the Supreme Court, would be allowed.
9mm bullets for sale, in a store in New York. Photo: AP
“In short, Hawaii is about to become a more dangerous place,” said Democratic state Sen. Karl Rhoads.
“Hawaii will go from being a place where the right to bear arms in public is the exception to a place where not having the right to bear arms in the street is an exception. I don’t see any restrictions on the type of firearm.” , he added.
Gun rights groups in Hawaii and elsewhere applauded the ruling.
In Maryland, Mark Pennak, president of a gun rights advocacy group challenging that state’s concealed-carry law, said he is “absolutely ecstatic” by the high court’s decision because “there’s just no way” the law can continue to be upheld.
Democratic leaders in the Maryland General Assembly said that if necessary, they will approve aA law that complies with the new precedent but continues to protect the inhabitants.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, criticized the court’s opinion for limiting how states can address the proliferation of firearms in public, but vowed to protect the state’s gun control measures. He said his administration believes the state can continue to regulate who can carry concealed weapons and where they can carry them.
He promised that his administration “will do everything in our power to protect our residents.”
Jennifer McDermott, Associated Press
Translation: Elisa Carnelli