WASHINGTON: The US Supreme Court ruled on Thursday (Jun 23) that Americans have a fundamental right to carry a handgun in public, a landmark decision with far-reaching implications for states and cities across the country confronting a surge in gun violence.
The 6-3 decision strikes down a more than century-old New York law that required a person to prove they had a legitimate self-defence need to receive a permit to carry a concealed handgun outside the home.
Five other states, including California, and Washington, the nation’s capital, have similar laws and the ruling will curb their ability to restrict people from carrying guns in public.
Democratic President Joe Biden denounced the decision, saying it “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all”.
“We must do more as a society – not less – to protect our fellow Americans,” Biden said. “I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety.”
Despite growing calls for limits on firearms after two horrific mass shootings in May, the court sided with plaintiffs who said the US Constitution guarantees the right to own and carry guns.
The ruling is the first by the court in a major Second Amendment case since 2008, when it ruled that Americans have a right to keep a gun at home for self-defence.
It was a stunning victory for the National Rifle Association lobby group, which brought the case along with two New York men who had been denied gun permits.
“Today’s ruling is a watershed win for good men and women all across America and is the result of a decades-long fight the NRA has led,” NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said in a statement.
“The right to self-defence and to defend your family and loved ones should not end at your home.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul called it a “dark day”, and vowed to enact gun control legislation.
“It is outrageous that at a moment of national reckoning on gun violence, the Supreme Court has recklessly struck down a New York law that limits those who can carry concealed weapons,” Hochul said.
California’s governor Gavin Newsom termed the decision “shameful”.
“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,” Newsom tweeted.