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Supreme Court strikes down New York concealed gun law in 6-3 decision

Tim Balk, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that New York’s century-old concealed carry handgun law violates the Second Amendment, a finding long feared by local officials who viewed the law as a linchpin in efforts to curb the proliferation of pistols on New York City streets.

The 6-3 decision, which is the court’s most significant gun rights ruling in more than a decade, rejected the state’s Sullivan Act, a regulation that limited concealed carry handgun licenses to New Yorkers with specific defense needs.

The court’s conservative majority was widely expected to gut the gun law after hinting at their opposition during oral arguments in the fall. But the decision in the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, landed a blow to New York Democrats and promised swift political outcry from Brooklyn to Buffalo and beyond.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority on a court remade by President Donald Trump, wrote that the New York law violates the Constitution by preventing “law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul, responding minutes after the ruling’s release at a news conference in Midtown Manhattan, called the ruling “appalling” and “frightful in its scope.” She said her legal team was poring over the 135-page opinion.

“The language we’re reading is shocking,” the governor told reporters. “It is particularly painful that this came down at this moment, when we’re still dealing with families in pain from mass shootings.”

 

The decision came 40 days after the bloody massacre in Buffalo, though that shooting was carried out with an assault rifle.

Hochul said she intended to call the Legislature to a special session to shore up the state’s handgun laws, but she did not immediately set dates.

Lawmakers will now be operating under judicial edicts from Washington that have significantly expanded constitutional gun rights in the 21st century. In 2008, the Supreme Court held in a landmark decision that Americans have a personal right to possess guns that is baked into the Second Amendment.

That 5-4 ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, struck down a strict gun control law in Washington that outlawed possession of handguns at home. The New York ruling went further, extending firearm protections in the public realm.

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