Joe Biden: Supreme Court’s New York gun law change ‘should deeply trouble us all’

·2-min read
President Biden criticised the New York Supreme Court’s ruling on gun control laws  (AFP via Getty Images)
President Biden criticised the New York Supreme Court’s ruling on gun control laws (AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden has said that the US Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a New York law restricting gun carrying rights “should deeply trouble us all”.

In a statement following the court’s ruling on Thursday, Mr Biden said the decision “contradicts both common sense and the constitution”.

The justices overturned a New York state law requiring people to demonstrate a specific need for carrying a firearm in order to carry one in public.

It could prompt challenges to similar laws restricting gun ownership in other US states, including California, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Around a quarter of the US population lives in states expected to be affected by the ruling.

President Biden said that the country should be doing more, not less, to curb gun availability following several mass shootings in the past year, including the killing of ten black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on May 14.

He urged states to “enact and enforce common-sense laws to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence”.

“I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Lives are on the line,” he added.

In their 6-3 ruling on Thursday, the justices found that the state’s law, enacted in 1913, violated a person’s right to “keep and bear arms” under the US Constitution’s Second Amendment.

Justice Clarence Thomas claimed that the constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defence outside the home”.

Under the New York law’s “proper cause” requirement, applicants seeking an unrestricted carry permit must convince a state firearms licensing officer of an actual, rather than speculative, need for self-defence.

Officials could also grant licenses restricted to certain activities, such as hunting or target practice.

In an interview on MSNBC, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the ruling was “absolutely shocking” and that she was “sorry this dark day has come.”

It comes as Congress is working on changes to gun laws following a shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas last month. Nineteen children and two teachers were killed when a gunman opened fire in Robb Elementary School.

The challenge to the New York law was brought by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which describes itself as the nation’s oldest firearms advocacy organisation, and two men seeking an unrestricted ability to carry guns outside their homes.

The Supreme Court last issued a major gun decision in 2010.

In that decision, and a ruling from 2008, the justices established a nationwide right to keep a gun at home for self-defence. The question for the court this time was about carrying one outside the home.

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