In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday morning that the 2nd and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution protect the right to carry a firearm both at home and at home. the outside of it.
As a result, the Supreme Court invalidates a New York State law dating from 1913 by which it was considered a criminal act to possess a firearm without a license. New York law stated that an individual could obtain such a permit if he demonstrated a special need for self-protection.
In addition to New York, the decision has an immediate effect in six other states (California, New Jersey, Maryland, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island), all Democrats and where the rights to carry a firearm on oneself were restricted. It therefore becomes possible to see individuals appearing with a weapon on their belt in large cities such as New York, Boston, Chicago or Los Angeles.
In his argument on behalf of the majority of the justices, all conservatives, magistrate Clarence Thomas said: “Nothing in the second amendment makes a distinction between the house or public places in matters of carrying weapons. »
“This decision severely limits the efforts of states to try to limit gun violence,” replied Judge Stephen Breyer on behalf of the three dissenting judges. He laments that the Court ruled on the issue “without considering the potentially life-threatening consequences of its decision”.
“It’s a major decision. Without a doubt, it is the most important decision of the Supreme Court and of all American arms courts since Heller [ District of Columbia v. Heller , 2008],” says Rafael Jacob, researcher in residence at the Raoul-Dandurand Chair in Strategic and Diplomatic Studies at UQAM.
At the time, the Supreme Court decision, passed 5-4, recognized the right to own a firearm inside the home for self-defense. The judgment did not address the issue of wearing one outside of one’s home.
“What is announced this morning [Thursday] is more limited, but still important, because it gives an additional expansion to the constitutional recognition of the right to bear a weapon, continues Mr. Jacob. But it is more limited insofar as it is a question of a regulation which does not affect all the American States.
Unsurprisingly, the decision sparked a flood of diametrically opposed reactions in the United States.
“The NRA wins a victory! exclaimed the National Rifle Association on its Twitter account. “The Supreme Court has confirmed that the right to bear arms DOES NOT STOP AT THE HOME DOOR. »
🎉BREAKING NEWS: @NRA WINS SCOTUS CASE!
Supreme Court Rules New York’s Carry Restrictions are UNCONSTITUTIONAL
— NRA (@NRA) June 23, 2022
Disappointment was palpable among supporters of tougher gun ownership rules. Starting with President Joe Biden, who said he was “deeply disappointed” in a statement.
“This decision contradicts both common sense and the Constitution. We should all be very disturbed by this.”
Joe Biden, President of the United States
New York State Governor Kathy Hochul called the decision “scandalous,” especially in the context of “national wake-up calls” following the shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, in Texas.
For his part, the Democratic Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, said he feared that the Supreme Court’s case law could fuel “a wave of gun violence”.
According to Rafael Jacob, political entities still retain the right to regulate firearms. “The Supreme Court ruled that the laws of the states concerned were too subjective,” he explains. States can continue to regulate the right to carry a gun in public, but the criteria will have to be very clear and more objective than those that currently exist. »
Let us recall in this regard that the American Senate adopted on Thursday a bill supported by elected officials from the two main parties supposed to fight against the wave of armed violence which is raging in the United States, with restrictions on access to firearms and billions of dollars to fund mental health and school safety.
The project, adopted by 65 votes against 33 in the upper house and which has every chance of being validated in the House of Representatives on Friday, remains far below the measures demanded by President Joe Biden, but it nevertheless constitutes a first. for decades and a step forward for proponents of limiting individual firearms.
Finally, this Supreme Court decision comes as Parliament in Canada considers Bill C-21, which aims to prohibit the purchase, sale, transfer and importation of handguns. Ottawa is also considering making participation in the buy-back program for assault weapons now banned in the country mandatory.