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The Supreme Court Handed Down a Huge Victory for the Gun Rights Crowd

(AP Photo/Tae-Gyun Kim)

The Supreme Court has spoken and New York’s gun licensing scheme has been ruled unconstitutional in a highly-anticipated ruling handed down on Thursday. This means that states who employ a highly-restrictive policy for granting licenses to people who wish to carry handguns might be forced to strike down many of their laws. It is a tremendous victory for law-abiding gun owners seeking to carry for self-defense.

The 6-3 decision found that New York’s “proper cause” restriction to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm violates the Second Amendment because it prevents law-abiding citizens from exercising self-defense when needed. Up to this point, New York, a “may issue” state, would only issue a license to people who could prove to the official that they had a pressing need to be armed. This means only very few people were granted licenses even if they went through the proper procedures.

Proponents of the Second Amendment are cheering the decision and have pointed out that it is the most significant case regarding firearms since Heller v. District of Columbia. Amy Swearer, legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, released a statement on Thursday celebrating the ruling. She wrote:

This is a good day for the sanctity of the Constitution, the integrity of the court, and the personal safety of all Americans who choose to protect themselves with firearms. The Second Amendment is grounded in the natural right of self-defense, including individual self-defense against criminals, and protects a right both to keep and to bear arms for that purpose.

Swearer noted that the decision “has finally and definitively affirmed that states like New York cannot treat this fundamental right as a special privilege for the select few” and that “a person’s constitutional right to armed self-defense does not disappear when he or she walks out the front door.”

“New York and states with similar laws must finally give up their government monopolies on armed self-defense in public and ensure that their tens of millions of citizens truly have the right to exercise their Second Amendment rights outside the home,” she concluded.

Professor Mark W. Smith, a presidential scholar and senior fellow in law and public policy at The King’s College, also chimed in. He released a statement noting that “the Supreme Court has restored the right to carry a firearm outside the home for tens of millions of Americans who have been stripped of this Constitutional right for far too long.”

“The days of forcing citizens to ask local officials, ‘Mother may I have permission to defend myself or protect my family’ are gone,” he wrote.

Of course, not everyone is happy about this development. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from the anti-gunner lobby. NBC News legal analyst Barb McQuade took to Twitter to express her outrage, claiming that the “ Bruen decision is a product of cherry-picking textualists who ignore the Second-Amendment’s militia clause and the meaning of ‘arms’ at time the language was adopted.”

Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center at New York University Law, tweeted:

First read of Bruen: Today’s opinion could be the biggest expansion of gun rights by SCOTUS in the country’s history.

It struck down NYS law since early 1900s.  There will be more guns, more violence.

Despite the whining coming from those seeking to place ordinary citizens at the mercy of violent criminals who don’t follow gun laws, this decision is huge for New Yorkers and others living in “may issue” states. It means more people will be able to obtain guns to defend themselves. This is also beneficial for black and brown Americans living in high-crime areas where the vast majority of gun crimes are committed using illegally-obtained firearms.

Overall, this is a net win for those who value the Second Amendment. But it does not mean the battle is over. The anti-gunner lobby remains intent on limiting the right to bear arms as much as possible. States like New York will probably look into passing laws designed to keep people disarmed without violating the Supreme Court’s ruling. But even then, they no longer have the sweeping authority to stop responsible people from owning firearms, and this is a significant step in the right direction.