The Supreme Court voted 6–3 on June 23 to strike down New York state’s draconian concealed-carry gun permitting system on constitutional grounds.
The Supreme Court has been strengthening Second Amendment protections in recent years and observers have said the court’s 6–3 conservative supermajority could help expand gun ownership protections. In District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment protects “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” and in McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), it held that this right “is fully applicable to the States.”
The ruling comes amid rising crime rates, activist demands to defund police departments, and a Biden administration push to strengthen gun control policies. A gun control package, introduced in the wake of a series of high-profile mass shootings, is moving forward in Congress.
The Empire State’s gun permit law, like laws in seven other states, generally requires an applicant to demonstrate “proper cause” in order to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in public.
New York makes it a crime to possess a firearm without a license, whether inside or outside the home. An individual who wants to carry a firearm outside his home may obtain an unrestricted license to “have and carry” a concealed “pistol or revolver” if he can prove that “proper cause exists” for doing so, according to state law. An applicant satisfies the “proper cause” requirement only if he can “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community,” according to a 1980 ruling by the Supreme Court of New York in Klenosky v. New York City Police Department.
The specific issue before the court was whether the state’s denial of the petitioning individuals’ applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense violates the U.S. Constitution.