The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the biggest gun rights case in more than a decade doesn’t mean a New Yorker can now openly carry an AR-15 rifle into a classroom. movie theater.
But they could possibly bring a concealed and loaded handgun.
In a 6-3 decision in a case brought against New York’s gun licensing requirements, the conservative-dominated court rules that Americans have a fundamental right to carry a concealed handgun in public .
The decision represents a major legal shift on the issue of gun control, but it will likely take time for the real impact on the streets and citizens of American cities to be felt:
– New York swears to retaliate –
New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the Supreme Court’s decision “reprehensible” and pledged to enact new gun control legislation.
“We don’t need people walking into our subways, our restaurants, our movie theaters with concealed weapons,” Hochul said.
New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell warned New Yorkers that nothing has changed yet.
“If you carry a gun illegally in New York, you will be arrested,” she said.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams pledged to use “all available legal resources” to ensure “New Yorkers are not further exposed to gun violence.”
New York, the nation’s fourth-largest state with a population of 19.3 million, has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
Illegal possession of a loaded firearm outside of one’s home or workplace is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Adams, the mayor, said the city will begin identifying sensitive locations where guns may be legally prohibited.
– ‘Sensitive places’ –
In its decision, the Supreme Court said it was “established” law that firearms can be banned in certain “sensitive places” such as schools, government buildings, polling stations and courthouses.
But they left it to the lower courts to determine exactly what other places could be added to the list.
Jeffrey Fagan, a law professor at Columbia University, said the court had “set a precedent that there are extremely limited circumstances in which you cannot carry a gun”.
Fagan predicted a “game of cat and mouse” between city governments seeking to restrict the right to carry with one hand and the gun lobby and constitutional conservatives who want to expand that right.
“Can you carry a gun in a church? Can you carry a gun on public transport? Can you carry a gun in a movie theater? He asked. “I think it’s going to be an interesting period of experimentation.”
– Impact on other States –
About half of the 50 U.S. states allow the unlicensed carry of concealed firearms in public while the other half allow it in some form but with restrictions, according to gun control group Giffords .
A number of US states also allow the open carry of guns, including semi-automatic rifles, and several recent protests in the US have featured heavily armed protesters.
The Supreme Court’s decision will have an immediate impact on the five states with laws similar to New York’s — California, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts and Hawaii — and the nation’s capital, Washington.
Joseph Blocher, a law professor at Duke University, said he expects these states “to try to distinguish their laws from those of New York.”
They can argue that their laws are less stringent and involve less discretion in licensing authority, said Blocher, co-director of the Center for Firearms Law.
“But I would expect there to be strong litigation pressure for their laws to be revamped or struck down,” he added.