Democrats want to be able to tell Americans that can’t defend yourself with a firearm. California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, have been terrible on gun ownership rights. But they were just rebuked by the highest court in the land.
The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a decision striking down a New York gun law that puts unconstitutional restrictions on concealed carry of a gun out in public.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion in the 6-3 ruling. “This ‘special need’ standard is demanding,” Thomas wrote. “For example, living or working in an area ‘noted for criminal activity’ does not suffice.” In 43 other states, Thomas noted, authorities are required to issue licenses to applicants who meet certain requirements, and officials do not have discretion to say no due to what they believe is an insufficient need,” Fox reported.
“It was like he was quoting from our Amicus Briefs,” said Sam Paredes to the Globe Thursday morning. Paredes, Executive Director of Gun Owners of California, spoke with the Globe about the Supreme Court decision and the impacts on California’s labyrinth of gun laws, many of which are unconstitutional.
In January 2019, the United States Supreme Court announced its decision to hear a case challenging New York City’s near-prohibition on owning or transporting handguns. This was so significant for Californians as the Golden State also has such restrictive gun laws.
“California is going to be a ‘shall-issue’ state!” Paredes said.
Only six States and the District of Columbia have “may issue” licensing laws instead of “shall issue,” under which authorities have discretion to deny concealed-carry licenses even when the applicant satisfies the statutory criteria, usually because the applicant has not demonstrated cause or suitability for the relevant license, the SCOTUS decision says. “Aside from New York, then, only California, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey have analogues to the ‘proper cause’ standard.”
Gun Owners of California joined the California Rifle and Pistol Association to file an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. City of New York, to decide whether New York City’s ban on transporting a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun to a home or shooting range outside city limits is consistent with the Second Amendment, the commerce clause and the constitutional right to travel. Their joint brief supported the parties challenging New York City’s restrictive handgun licensing prohibition scheme as a violation of the Second Amendment and other constitutional rights.
Paredes explained that New York City “allows” its citizens to own a gun and keep it at home, but they can only transport their gun to and from a city-sponsored gun range, of which there are only three. New York City gun owners have not been allowed to travel with their guns to competitions even within the state, to a second home within the state, out of state, or anywhere other than the city-sanctioned gun ranges.
Believing that New York City stepped far over the constitutionality line, Paredes said the Gun Owners of California brief submitted to the Supreme Court also addressed how district and appellate courts have blatantly thumbed their collective noses and ignored the warnings from the Supreme Court from using judicial “balancing tests” when deciding Second Amendment cases.
And that is where this Supreme Court decision is so important. In New York, gun carry permit applicants were required to provide justification or “proper cause,” for why they had to defend themselves, rather than just general self defense.
Paredes told the Globe Justice Thomas’ decision also orders states to refrain from using a two-step approval process. States may now only use “text, history, and tradition of words” actually written in the Constitution by the founders, at the time it was written.
“No New York statute defines ‘proper cause,'” Thomas said. “But New York courts have held that an applicant shows proper cause only if he can ‘demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community.’”
Paredes said Thomas also gave directions to lower courts when addressing concealed carry issues.
What does this mean for California? Paredes said the California Legislature will need to draft legislation by the end of the year to comply with the new ruling, or the state will be sued again. “Los Angeles and San Francisco will go the way of New York,” Paredes said. “We are anxious to carry on the fight, and now we are coming from a position of strength.”
“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” Thomas wrote. “That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”
Read the Supreme Court decision in NEW YORK STATE RIFLE & PISTOL ASSOCIATION, INC., ET AL. v. BRUEN, SUPERINTENDENT OF NEW YORK STATE POLICE, ET AL.
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