The US Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution gives people the right to carry a gun outside their home, in a significant new ruling for gun rights.
The decision is expected to allow more people to legally carry firearms in some of America’s largest cities, including Los Angeles, New York and Boston, and is the court’s first major decision on gun rights in more of a decade.
It comes as Congress is working on changes to gun laws following the shootings in Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, and in buffalo, where 10 people were murdered in a supermarket.
Supreme Court justices struck down a New York state law, in place since 1913, that required people to show a particular need 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 had come.”
President Biden, whose administration had urged the court to uphold the status quo, said he was “deeply disappointed.”
He said it contradicted “both common sense and the constitution, and should concern us all deeply.”
“I’m calling on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Lives are at stake,” added the president.
However, the powerful gun group, the National Rifle Association, called the decision a “monumental victory for NRA members and for gun owners across the country.”
People can legally carry a gun in public in much of the US, but it is more difficult in some states.
In New York, “good cause” must be shown when applying for an unrestricted concealed carry license. This includes showing a real, rather than speculative, need for self-defense.
California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland and Rhode Island have similar laws that will now likely be challenged.
Supporters of the New York law argued that a change would lead to more guns on the streets and violent crime.
But the court concluded that the Constitution protects “the right of an individual to carry a firearm for self-defense outside the home.”
Judge Clarence Thomas, who authored the ruling, said New York law “prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary needs for self-defense from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.”
He added: “We are not aware of any other constitutional right that an individual can exercise only after demonstrating to
government officials any special needs.
The ruling was split 6-3, with Conservative justices supporting the change and 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 in the home.
Current efforts to toughen laws after the Uvalde and Buffalo horror it is projected to be the most significant in decades, but still modest due to resistance by Republicans and gun groups to violating the Second Amendment.
His proposals include toughening background checks for gun buyers convicted of domestic violence or major felonies when they were minors.
Tougher changes backed by Democrats, such as a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, have been left out of the bipartisan bill.