As the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Thursday, June 23, struck down a century-old New York law that limits who can carry a concealed weapon in public, Queens lawmakers expressed disappointment in the court’s landmark decision and said they will continue to work together to protect communities from gun violence and make streets safer.
In a major ruling for gun rights, the Supreme Court justices voted 6-3 in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, where two men whose applications for unrestricted licenses were denied. The case was argued before the court in November of 2021.
Under the New York state law, a resident who wants to carry a firearm outside of 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.
“We agree, and now hold, consistent with Heller and McDonald, that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home,” Conservative Justin Clarence Thomas wrote for the court’s majority. “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.”
Clarence’s liberal colleagues, Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, issued a dissenting opinion noting the 45,222 Americans who were killed by firearms, and 277 reported mass shootings that have occurred since the start of 2022.
“Many states have tried to address some of the dangers of gun violence just described by passing laws that limit, in various ways, who may purchase, carry, or use firearms of different kinds,” Breyer wrote. “The Court today severely burdens States’ efforts to do so. It invokes the Second Amendment to strike down a New York law regulating the public carriage of concealed handguns.”
The court’s decision comes as Congress is actively working on gun legislation following recent mass shootings in Texas, California and New York.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. said the Supreme Court’s ruling is “equal parts dangerous, delusional and a dereliction” of the government’s sacred duty to keep its residents safe.
“For years in states across this country, far-right radicals who fetishize firearms and worship at the altar of weaponry have prioritized the profits of gun manufacturers — and the campaign contributions they make in return — over public safety,” Richards said. “With this cult-like obsession with firearms now forced upon New York by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, we are less safe today than we were yesterday.”
“Thankfully, shootings in New York City have declined this year compared to 2021 and my office will continue to work closely with the NYPD and our Crisis Management System to drive shootings down further,” Richards added. “But with heightened rates of gun violence post-pandemic and with mass shootings claiming the lives of innocent students, shoppers and others across America with sickening frequency, flooding our streets with even more firearms will lead to even more funerals and families torn apart.”
The borough president vowed that they will not “accept a world where our sidewalks and subways are teeming with triggers ready to be pulled.”
“We’re grateful for the package of gun violence prevention measures signed into law earlier this month. But with this Supreme Court decision in hand, the state Legislature must immediately reconvene and pass legislation to further prevent guns from reaching our young people and to keep vulnerable, high-trafficked locations free of firearms. It’s time to act before any more lives are lost,” Richards said.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said the court’s ruling significantly hinders their ongoing efforts to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence.
“I am extremely disappointed in this decision by the highest court which creates an undue burden on the common-sense gun laws in this state,” Katz said. We remain committed to working with our law enforcement partners, legislative leaders, community members, faith-based institutions, violence interrupters and youth development organizations on comprehensive solutions to end the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our communities.”
“Despite today’s setback, we will meet this national challenge together in order to ensure the safety and well-being of every New Yorker,” Katz added.
Councilwoman Sandra Ung echoed Katz’s sentiments, saying the court’s decision is a “major blow” to their ongoing efforts to make NYC a safer city for all residents.
“Coming just a month after the tragic shooting and murder of 19 children in Uvalde, this decision is not only tone-deaf but moves our country and our state in the wrong direction,” Ung said. “It will cost lives. Both here in New York and across the United States, we must tackle the flood of guns filling our streets, and I will be working with my colleagues across the city, state and federal government to make our streets safe from guns.”
Some lawmakers took to Twitter to express their concerns.
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said the council is prepared to take action to protect New Yorkers.
“The SCOTUS decision to overturn NY’s gun laws is dangerous and puts NYers at risk. Our country and NYC are already facing a gun violence crisis and this ruling only threatens to worsen the harm inflicted on our communities,” Adams wrote.
The SCOTUS decision to overturn NY’s gun laws is dangerous and puts NYers at risk. Our country and NYC are already facing a gun violence crisis and this ruling only threatens to worsen the harm inflicted on our communities. @NYCCouncil is prepared to take action to protect NYers.
— Adrienne Adams (@NYCSpeakerAdams) June 23, 2022
Calling it a “dangerous precedent” that will put all New Yorkers at risk, Councilwoman Lynn Schulman said she is committed to making sure communities remain safe following the “horrendous” decision.
Today's SCOTUS decision to overturn NY’s gun laws sets a dangerous precedent and puts all NYers at risk. As a Member of @NYCCouncil, I am committed to making sure our communities remain safe after this horrendous decision.https://t.co/FTHc5hemL9
— Lynn Schulman 舒曼琳 (@Lynn4NYC) June 23, 2022
Senator Michael Gianaris said the court’s “horrible decision-making” by declaring the right of individuals to carry concealed weapons more important than everyone else’s right not to be victimized by gun violence.
“That is unacceptable. New York has experienced more than our share of gun violence and mass shootings, and we need the tools to protect our communities,” Gianaris said. “Once again, the federal government is failing us and our state Legislature must fill the gap. I am proud of our senate majority’s record of passing nation-leading gun safety legislation, and we will now do more because we must.”
Another horrible decision from the Supreme Court. The federal government continues to fail, and the state legislature will fill the gap – because we musthttps://t.co/g4nyRdwDtp
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) June 23, 2022
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling on Congress to move swiftly to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation and ensure only those who are trained and trustworthy are allowed to carry loaded firearms.
“It’s time we did what it takes to stop the rise of gun violence. The lives of our friends, our law enforcement officers, and our children are at stake,” Gillibrand said.
“Today, the Supreme Court ruling, which guts state concealed carry permitting laws, is not just irresponsible, it is downright dangerous,” Gillibrand added. “Our nation is in the middle of a gun violence epidemic and instead of working to protect our communities, this court has made it even easier for potentially dangerous people to carry concealed handguns in public spaces.”
Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said it is “unconscionable” that the conservative Supreme Court would overturn New York’s law on concealed carry permits.
“At a time when this nation is experiencing unprecedented gun violence, this decision doesn’t take into account anyone’s safety. I am ready to partner with our governor and my colleagues to pass laws that will keep guns out of the wrong hands and make New Yorkers safe,” Stavisky said.
According to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, the decision adds fuel to the fire of the gun violence epidemic, which has already devastated countless lives and communities across the country.
“Not only is the majority ruling out of touch with the American people, but it is also out of touch with any reasonable interpretation of the Constitution. New York City, the state and the entire country will be less safe as a result of untrained individuals bringing concealed weapons into public spaces, putting everyday people in the line of fire. There is no saving grace for a court that puts ideology over the lives of Americans — it must be reformed,” Maloney said.
Congresswoman Grace Meng condemned the decision saying it will have “disastrous consequences” for public safety and permit people to legally carry hidden guns on the streets without having to provide an excuse as to why they need a gun.
“This will make New York less safe and put our communities at greater risk of more gun violence. Our government should be doing everything possible to reduce gun violence, not unleashing more guns in our neighborhoods, especially as we work to combat the rise in shootings and massacres,” Meng said. “Gun violence is an epidemic and it cannot be ignored. Innocent lives have been lost, families have been destroyed, and communities have been devastated. This decision only stands to make matters worse.”