Supreme Court strikes down New York state’s system for issuing concealed weapons permits;

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The 6-3 decision in the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, marks the widest expansion of gun rights since 2010.

“The Second and 14th Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court. New York law requiring that applicants justify their need for a concealed weapons permit thus was unconstitutional.

The decision swept further than the rules for concealed-weapons permits. The court rejected the legal method overwhelmingly used by lower courts to evaluate gun regulations, which has considered such government’s interests as crime prevention.

Under that standard, most weapons laws have been upheld since the Supreme Court first recognized an individual right under the Second Amendment in its 2008 decision on District of Columbia v. Heller and a subsequent ruling in McDonald v. Chicago in 2010.

Instead, Justice Thomas wrote Thursday, a weapons law is constitutional only if the government demonstrates “that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett joined the opinion.

Under that standard previously asserted in dissenting opinions by Justices Kavanaugh and Barrett when they sat on lower courts – gun advocates believe more regulations will fall, allowing greater access to weapons and ammunition nationwide.

A 52-page dissent by Justice Stephen Breyer began bluntly. “In 2020, 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms,” he wrote, joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

History alone shouldn’t govern the Second Amendment’s application, he wrote, for “it is constitutionally proper, indeed often necessary… to consider the serious dangers and consequences of gun violence that lead States to regulate firearms.”

While Republican-leaning states have been loosening gun regulations over the past decade, some more urban states have maintained their traditional limits on concealed weapons.

Justice Thomas wrote that permit laws in California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey shared New York’s constitutional flaw.

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