The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution gives people the right to carry a gun outside their home, in an important new decision for gun rights.
The ruling is expected to allow more people to legally carry guns in some of America’s biggest cities – such as Los Angeles, New York and Boston – and is the court’s first major gun rights ruling in more than of a decade.
It comes as Congress works on changes to gun laws following shootings in Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were murdered, and in Buffalo, where 10 people were killed in a supermarket.
Supreme Court justices struck down a New York law – in effect since 1913 – that required people to demonstrate special need in order to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon in public.
They said it violated the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul called the decision “absolutely shocking” and said she was “sorry this dark day has come.”
President Biden, whose administration had urged the court to maintain the status quo, said he was disappointed.
People can legally carry a gun in public in most of the United States, but it’s more difficult in some states.
In New York, “lawful cause” must be demonstrated when applying for an unrestricted concealed carry license. This includes demonstrating a real, rather than speculative, need for self-defense.
California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland and Rhode Island have similar laws that are now open to challenge.
Proponents of the New York law had argued that a change would lead to more guns on the streets and violent crime.
But the court found that the Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun in self-defense outside the home.”
Judge Clarence Thomas, who wrote the ruling, said New York law “prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to own and bear arms.”
He added: “We are not aware of any other constitutional right which an individual can exercise only after demonstrating to
government officials have a special need.”
The decision was split 6-3, with the Conservative justices backing the change and the Liberal members dissenting.
The Supreme Court last ruled on gun rights in 2008 and 2010 when it said the Second Amendment enshrined the right to keep a gun inside the home.