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-to-3 decision, which was 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 self-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 stirred swift outcry from Brooklyn to Buffalo and beyond.
Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority on a court remade by former 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. Hochul, responding minutes after the ruling’s release, called the decision “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 said at a news conference in Midtown Manhattan. “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-style rifle.
Hochul said she intended to call the Legislature to a special session in July to shore up the state’s handgun laws, but she did not immediately set specific dates.
Mayor Adams, who had said for weeks that the Supreme Court’s potential move was keeping him up at night, declared Thursday that the decision made “every single one of us less safe,” and had ignored the “shocking crisis of gun violence” in American cities.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision may have opened an additional river that is going to feed the sea of gun violence in our city and in our nation,” Adams said in a news conference at City Hall.