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Many State Gun Laws Will Be Challenged Under High Court Ruling

The Supreme Court’s ruling striking down New York's permitting requirements for concealed weapons is likely to have ripple effects throughout the U.S., especially in several Democratic-led states that have given government officials broad latitude to deny citizens’ requests to carry concealed handguns for self-defense, reports the Wall Street Journal. The decision said New York’s longstanding permitting rules violated the Second Amendment because local officials enjoyed too much discretion to deny a citizen a concealed-carry permit unless the applicant demonstrated a special need to carry a handgun. The 6-3 ruling, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, suggested most states’ handgun permitting programs passed legal muster, but it called into question the rules in at least a half-dozen states, including California and New Jersey. New York officials responded immediately, saying they would look for new ways to limit handguns, especially in certain locations where they said firearms would be particularly dangerous.

The Supreme Court has made clear that government officials can forbid the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings. Thursday’s opinion warned that cities and states can’t define entire urban areas as sensitive gun-free zones just because they are densely populated. Adam Winkler, a professor of law at the University of California Los Angeles, said a host of modern gun-control laws—including red-flag laws that allow firearms to be taken from people who are mentally ill—might be challenged because they don’t have pre-Civil War roots. “Many of the top agenda items of the gun-safety reform movement are novel, innovative laws that don’t have any pedigree in the gun laws of the 1700s and 1800s,” Winkler said. California Attorney General Rob Bonta said state leaders had been anticipating the ruling and would look for other ways to strengthen concealed-carry permitting rules, as well as to expand the locations where firearms aren’t allowed, such as amusement parks, sporting venues and other places “of significant public congregation."

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