US Supreme Court Ruling in NY Gun Case Affirms Right to Keep and Bear Arms

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The US Supreme Court struck down New York’s “good cause” requirement to obtain a carry permit, affirming that the right to bear arms exists outside the home.  You may read the Courts opinion here.

The State of New York makes it a crime to possess a firearm without a license, whether inside or outside the home. Prior to this ruling, an individual who wanted to carry a firearm outside his home had to obtain an unrestricted license to “have and carry” a concealed “pistol or revolver,” but only if he could prove that “proper cause exists” for doing so.  An applicant satisfied the “proper cause” requirement only if he could “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community.”

Two adult, law-abiding NY residents were denied unrestricted licenses to carry a handgun in public based on their generalized interest in self-defense allegedly because they failed to satisfy the “proper cause” requirement. Based on the denial, they sued the state officials who oversee the processing of licensing applications, alleging that the State violated their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying their unrestricted-license applications for failure to demonstrate a unique need for self-defense. The District Court dismissed their complaint and the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s decision.

In a majority opinion authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court found that New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.

Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb said,

“We are gratified that the high court has said there can be no bureaucratic prerequisite to exercising one’s constitutionally-protected right to bear arms. For too many generations, New York’s requirement has been the vehicle by which the constitutional rights of average law-abiding citizens have been deprived under color of law.

Government bureaucrats have routinely been arbitrary and all-too-eager to prevent honest people from having the means to defend themselves against violent crime outside of their homes. This pattern of exclusivity—allowing only those with wealth and political connections to legally carry guns in public—has been an affront to the constitution for decades, and now officials in a handful of other states with similar arbitrary requirements are on notice they can no longer perpetuate what amounts to an outrage against the constitution. We’ll see how this ruling affects eight other states with similar laws including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.”

The Court affirmed that the right to bear arms does not stop at a person’s front door. This is the most significant Second Amendment ruling in more than a decade.

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