States rush to revise laws after Supreme Court gun ruling

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Tens of millions of Americans are facing a flurry of litigation and legislative overhaul after a sweeping Supreme Court ruling making it easier to carry a gun in public gun control laws in at least one year. half a dozen states.

Thursday’s court ruling — its first major ruling on Americans’ right to carry a gun in public — most narrowly involves a New York state law that allows authorities to set additional requirements before residents can Obtain a concealed carry permit.

But five other states – California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey – have similar laws that lawmakers will now have to rewrite to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, or risk facing legal challenges. that their current laws are unconstitutional. Three additional states – Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island – may have to rewrite laws that set some limits on how permits to carry weapons outside the home are issued, advocacy groups have said. gun rights.

The Supreme Court’s decision does not immediately strike down or revise these state laws; it merely indicates that they are unconstitutional, effectively forcing state officials to revamp them.

“These states need to come into compliance or we will force them to do so,” said Stephen D. Stamboulieh, attorney for Gun Owners of America.

Officials from the affected states immediately condemned the decision, saying it would lead to more gun violence.

“This is a dangerous decision by a court determined to promote a radical ideological agenda and to violate the states’ right to protect our citizens from gunfire on our streets, schools and churches,” he said. Governor Gavin Newsom of California. said in a tweetcalling the decision “shameful”.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a statement that the judges’ decision would mean “more death and more pain in a country already overwhelmed by gun violence.”

More legal fights are all but guaranteed, as officials in some of the affected states have announced plans to try to craft new laws that attempt to honor the Supreme Court’s ruling, while limiting gun licenses. fire.

Options include mandating a significant amount of training required before licensing or prohibiting the carrying of weapons in certain crowded places, such as public transit systems, schools, offices of vote or the parks, constitutional and Second Amendment lawyers said Thursday. The changes would almost certainly generate new lawsuits.

On Thursday, Mr Newsom said California lawmakers “anticipated this moment” and would hear a bill next week to strengthen the state’s “public transportation” law, rewriting it to regulate the use of firearms so as to lessen the impact of the decision. He added that he is set to sign 16 gun safety bills this session, including one to allow individuals to sue gun manufacturers and distributors for gun trafficking. illegal.

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“California has proven that common sense gun laws save lives,” Mr. Newsom said, “and we will continue to stand up to those in political power who enable and coddle the gun industry. “.

Other states have said they will consider similar measures.

Governor Kathy Hochul of New York said she would convene a special legislative session as early as July and introduced proposals that could allow the state to maintain some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country.

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said his administration is reviewing the language of the court and has considered options that “we believe are still available to us regarding who can carry concealed weapons and where they can wear them.

In Maryland, Bill Ferguson, who leads the state Senate, and Adrienne Jones, who leads the House of Delegates, wrote in a joint statement that they would consider the advice and, if necessary, pass legislation that ” protects the people of Maryland and conforms to this mark”. -new precedent.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said she and 19 other attorneys general argued in the Supreme Court last year that the Second Amendment does not prevent states and localities from regulating carrying guns in public , “as they have done for hundreds of years”.

“The default right now is that you can bring a legally carried firearm onto private property unless you’re explicitly told not to,” said Eric Ruben, assistant professor of law at the SMU Dedman School of Law. “States might ask whether this flaw should be reversed in a world where more Americans carry concealed weapons.”

The exact degree of difficulty or ease of obtaining a concealed carry permit in these states will only be determined by legislative responses, said Darrell Miller, a law professor at Duke University and co-director of the Duke Center for Firearms. Law. .

“What is clear is that these states will need to change their laws so that the licensing authority has less discretion to deny a permit,” Miller said.

The ruling will draw challenges to far more than concealed carry permit laws, because it explicitly rejects a legal standard — dubbed the “two-step test” — that federal courts have used to weigh Second Amendment challenges for a while. landmark Supreme Court decision on gun rights. In 2008.

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Instead, the court has now ruled that a “history and tradition” standard should be used to assess these issues. This standard will require courts to assess whether a contemporary gun law is somehow analogous to regulations that existed when the Second Amendment was passed in the late 18th century.

“We’re going to see a lot of litigation,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles who specializes in gun policy. “This sets a new test for Second Amendment cases that challenges most key elements of the gun safety agenda over the past decade.”

The result, according to lawyers on both sides of the firearms debate, is that current cases or even past rulings related to issues such as the banning of certain assault rifles or high-capacity magazines on handguns or rifles could have different outcomes that are more favorable to gun rights.

Mr. Stamboulieh, the lawyer for Gun Owners of America, was already acting on Thursday to ensure that federal courts where he has pending cases heed the Supreme Court’s ruling, including in a case in Hawaii challenging a law prohibiting the carrying of handguns outdoors. of the House.

“It’s a lot broader than what I thought the court was going to do,” he said. “There is so much work to do now. ”

The United States had already moved towards relaxing concealed carry requirements. Over the past decade, 22 states have passed legislation repealing licensing requirements entirely, meaning a total of 25 states do not require a license to carry a concealed weapon.

“This case reflects broad cultural shifts already underway in most other states with respect to the legal carrying of firearms in public,” said Jennifer Carlson, associate professor of sociology and government and public policy at the University. of Arizona. “The case codifies the cultural change that has already occurred in the majority of states – and imposes that change on states that have not followed this trend.”

The ruling will also potentially force changes to gun control rules passed at the local government level.

California permits gun owners to carry concealed weapons, but permit authorization is left to the discretion of local law enforcement and varies widely. In rural counties or jurisdictions with Republican police chiefs or sheriffs — Sacramento, for example — out-of-home gun permits typically require little more than a firearm safety class. fire, a clean criminal record and charges.

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In the more populated areas of the state, however, gun owners hoping to carry a concealed firearm may face considerable hurdles.

Applicants to San Francisco must provide “compelling evidence” that they or their families currently face “a significant risk of danger to life or serious bodily harm”, and that law enforcement or a reasonable avoidance cannot adequately resolve the problem. They must also complete 16 hours of firearms training, pass a background check and psychological exam, and have no history indicating a propensity for gun violence or neglect. Even then, the sheriff’s decision is “discretionary and final,” according to local guidelines.

California’s gun laws are among the strictest in the country, and researchers largely credit them with a gun death rate nearly 40% lower than the rest of the country. On Thursday, state lawmakers and Attorney General Rob Bonta said they had been adjusting legislation for some time with New York’s case in mind.

Bonta acknowledged the ruling would ban the state’s requirement that Californians must show “good cause” to carry a firearm in public, but he said other requirements appeared to remain constitutional, including background checks and firearms safety training. “States,” he said, “always have the right to limit concealed carry permits to those who can safely possess firearms.”

In New York City, Mayor Eric Adams said the decision could lead New Yorkers to worry that anyone around them may be carrying a gun.

“We cannot allow New York to become the wild Wild West,” said Mr. Adams, a Democrat who has focused on reducing crime in the city. “This is unacceptable.”

But the decision was celebrated elsewhere.

In Hawaii, George Young, a Vietnam veteran who challenged state law that requires residents to identify specific reasons why they should be allowed to carry a handgun outside their homes, was ” ecstatic” to learn of the Supreme Court’s decision, his lawyer said. , Alan Alexander Beck.

“He finally asserted his Second Amendment rights,” Mr. Beck said of his client. “It not only defends Mr. Young’s rights in this case, it gives us the opportunity to assert the Second Amendment rights of other people.”

Alain Delaqueriere contributed to the research.

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