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Supreme Court ruling on gun rights divides U.S.

Supreme Court upheld Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms

Washington, U.S. | Xinhua | The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York state law that places restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home, a move likely to divide the nation further on the polarizing issue.

The 6-to-3 ruling, which fell along ideological lines, arrived as America continues to grapple with mass shootings over the past few weeks, including a rampage in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 children and two teachers dead on May 24.

CONTROVERSIAL RULING

The State of New York makes it a crime to possess a firearm without a license, whether inside or outside the home.

People who want to carry a firearm outside their home may obtain an unrestricted license to “have and carry” a concealed “pistol or revolver” if they can prove that “proper cause exists” for doing so, according to the law.

“Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution,” conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the Supreme Court ruling.

In a dissent, liberal Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the court’s ruling “severely burdens States’ efforts” to curb gun violence.

“The primary difference between the Court’s view and mine is that I believe the Amendment allows States to take account of the serious problems posed by gun violence,” Breyer argued. “I fear that the Court’s interpretation ignores these significant dangers and leaves States without the ability to address them.”

Democrats and Republicans reacted differently to the Supreme Court decision, as the divided Senate is debating a gun safety bill introduced after the Uvalde school shooting amid public outcry against longtime political inaction.

U.S. President Joe Biden responded that he is “deeply disappointed” by the ruling, maintaining that it “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.”

“In the wake of the horrific attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde, as well as the daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines, we must do more as a society — not less — to protect our fellow Americans,” the veteran Democrat said in a statement. “I urge states to continue to enact and enforce commonsense laws to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence.”

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, praised the Supreme Court — where conservatives have a clear majority — for the ruling, which was described as the widest expansion of gun rights in a decade.

“Today, the Supreme Court upheld our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms,” Cruz tweeted. “This case’s vindication of the right to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home is an ever-present reminder of our duty as citizens to defend our constitutional rights from brazen attacks from the left.”

IMPACT ON GUN REGULATION

The ruling from the Supreme Court could affect the ability of state and local governments to impose a wide variety of firearms regulations, legal analysts have pointed out. Carrying concealed guns in public are allowed in all states, although many require state-issued permits.

“The important thing to know today is that nothing changes,” New York City (NYC) Police Department Commissioner Keechant Sewell said in a press conference, making clear that the Supreme Court’s decision will not immediately affect laws in the city.

“If you have a premise permit, it does not automatically convert to a carry permit,” she said, adding, “if you carry a gun illegally in NYC, you will be arrested.”

More than 20,800 people have died from gun violence across the United States this year, according to the latest data from Gun Violence Archive, along with 279 mass shootings, characterized as an incident in which at least four people are killed or injured by gunfire, excluding the attacker.

Late Thursday, the Senate passed a compromised bill on gun safety, which will enhance background checks for gun purchasers younger than 21, provide money to administer “red-flag” laws that authorize courts to issue a special type of protection order, and crack down on straw buyers who purchase firearms for those ineligible, among other things.

Wayne LaPierre, an American gun rights lobbyist who has led the National Rifle Association (NRA), touted the Supreme Court ruling as a win for the politically influential gun lobby organization while lashing out at the Senate gun bill.

“The decision comes at an important time — as the Senate considers legislation that undermines the Second Amendment freedom. This decision unequivocally validates the position of the NRA and should put lawmakers on notice: no law should be passed that impinges this individual freedom,” LaPierre said in a statement.

Guns are deeply ingrained in American society and its political debates.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states. Such language has created considerable debate regarding the amendment’s intended scope.

Shannon Watts, an American gun violence prevention activist and founder of Moms Demand Action — a grassroots group fighting against gun violence in the United States, tweeted that she thinks the Supreme Court’s ruling “is out of touch.”

“This decision is limited to the constitutionality of one aspect of New York’s law on the public carry of firearms, with immediate implications for only a handful of other states,” Watts explained. “It doesn’t change the majority of concealed carry laws across the country.”

The Supreme Court released three other opinions on Thursday but again prolonged the wait for a ruling on abortion rights.

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Xinhua

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