The Supreme Court’s ruling in June striking down New York’s system for issuing concealed-weapons permits has already touched off a new wave of legal challenges against a range of firearms restrictions, the Wall Street Journal reports. The 6-3 decision rejected a legal test that many lower courts have used to uphold various bans on semiautomatic weapons and limits on who can own them. Justices instructed courts to use a different standard that has effectively called into question a swath of prior rulings on gun regulations.
The implications of the Supreme Court’s revised Second Amendment guidance could take years to sort out. But sensing that ground has shifted in their favor, gun-rights advocates have sprung into action. In recent days, they have drafted new challenges to previously upheld gun laws and have refashioned their arguments in cases still pending.
The developments have cast fresh uncertainty upon the country’s toughest gun laws—including California’s and New York’s restrictions on certain semiautomatic weapons—that gun-rights groups say no longer pass constitutional muster under the Supreme Court’s new standard.
New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which the high court decided June 23, dealt most directly with the right to carry handguns publicly for self-defense.
The high court previously held in 2008 that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to keep handguns in the home. Justice Clarence Thomas’s majority opinion in Bruen extended that holding, striking down New York’s handgun-permitting regime that denied law-abiding residents the ability to carry a concealed weapon unless they could show a special need for self-protection. The Second Amendment, the court said, guarantees “the right to bear commonly used arms in public subject to certain reasonable, well-defined restrictions.”
In doing so, the opinion waded into a more fundamental question of how courts generally are supposed to decide whether a gun law is impermissible under the Second Amendment.