Right-wing Supreme Court overturns N.Y. handgun law, opening door for more carnage
Ted S. Warren / AP

The extreme-right majority on the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York’s 100-year-old law that required people to show “proper cause” to get a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home. The decision, announced on June 23, makes it much easier to carry guns in public, including in subways, grocery stores, and crowded streets.

The ruling is the most significant Court decision expanding gun rights in ten years and once again radically overturns a longstanding and accepted legal precedent. In conjuring up their legal justification, the majority turned a deaf ear to the public outcry following the Uvalde elementary school and Buffalo massacres and the ever-increasing daily carnage of gun violence traumatizing communities across the country.

On April 12, a gunman rocked New York City when he shot into a packed subway car during rush hour, wounding ten and injuring many others. Over nine mass shootings occurred this past weekend, claiming six lives and injuring 42 others.

Meanwhile, in response to the surging gun violence, Democratic Congressional lawmakers passed the most considerable gun safety legislation in decades over the majority GOP opposition. Unsurprisingly, Republican elected officials celebrated the Court decision.

It is the latest example of this extreme right-wing majority bloc of justices arrogantly taking it upon themselves to radically and rapidly remake the country’s laws. The Court again showed it’s out of step with most Americans as it imposes a radical right-wing and theocratic agenda. The Court also issued a ruling reversing Roe v. Wade the following day, June 24, further eroding its credibility.

Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagin issued a pointed dissent in the case New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. Officials in New York and five other states with similar restrictions, along with anti-gun violence organizations and activists, blasted the ruling.

“This decision is so impactful,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “This decision has made every single one of us less safe from gun violence. It ignores the shocking crisis of gun violence engulfing New York and the entire country.”

Adams said the ruling “ignored today’s realities” and “will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence.” He vowed the city would work with state and federal governments to review how to define “sensitive locations” where carrying a gun can still be restricted.

“We will work together to mitigate the risks this decision will create once it is implemented, as we cannot allow New York to become the Wild West,” Adams said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the ruling “reprehensible,” “frightening,” and an impediment to the state protecting its citizens against gun violence. She vowed to call a special session of the legislature this summer to review state laws and find ways to pass gun safety legislation that would be immune to court action.

“States still have the right to limit concealed carry permits to those who may safely possess firearms. Our office has been watching this issue closely,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta, on behalf of one of the states affected. “We are working with the governor and the legislature to advance legislation that is both constitutional and will maintain safety for Californians.”

The Court majority completely ignored the history of the New York law and its impact on public safety. The hands of states to regulate firearms and provide public safety to their citizens through democratic means are effectively tied. It centralizes legislative authority in the hands of six extreme-right wing justices, further undermining democracy.

Breyer reviewed the long-existing history of state governments regulating firearms ignored by the majority. The Court majority has a “preference for founding-era regulation” but “chooses to ignore modern-day problems” and “modern-day circumstances that the founders couldn’t anticipate,” read the dissent.

The landmark ruling overturns a hundred years of states passing laws regulating firearms to protect the public. Speaking for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said the Court would not waver from its dogmatic interpretation of the 2nd Amendment when it came to state legislation. While ignoring “state’s rights” when it comes to guns, the Court upholds “state’s rights” regarding abortion and voting rights.

The ruling, as noted in Breyer’s dissent, is a step toward dismantling the ability of the states and federal government to base policy on democratic processes and deal with the gun violence crisis.

“At the height of the gun violence epidemic that is the leading cause of death for children, the Court has pinned one arm behind our backs and said that our lives aren’t worth saving,” said March for Our Lives, the group founded after the Parkland, Fla. massacre.

Further, the ruling undercuts the government’s ability to regulate industries in general, including for public safety and health reasons. Another Court ruling radically limiting the federal government’s authority to reduce greenhouse gases from power plants is also anticipated.

Shares of gun manufacturers rose on Wall Street at the news. Smith & Wesson Brands Inc. jumped nearly 8%, Sturm Ruger & Co. stock rose 4.4%, and Ammo Inc. jumped 4.3%.


John Bachtell
John Bachtell

John Bachtell is president of Long View Publishing Co., the publisher of People's World. He is active in electoral, labor, environmental, and social justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio, where he attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs. He currently lives in Chicago.