June 23 is Justice Clarence Thomas’ birthday. This year, he gave gun rights supporters a present they wished over a hundred years for, overturning New York’s rules limiting gun rights to favored citizens. Thomas’ opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen means that all Americans have the right to carry a firearm without being subject to the whims of state officials or favoritism in the process. Now all states must permit anyone who qualifies under objective terms to carry firearms outside the home. But that’s not all. The ruling in NYSRP v. Bruen also changes how lower courts should evaluate all laws impacting the Second Amendment in a way that favors an expansive view of gun rights.
New York State Rifle and Pistol now stands with the Heller and McDonald cases as formidable protection from infringement on Americans’ rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. The legacy of the case will affect far more than mere gun carry. All laws impacting the rights of gun owners must now pass through the new lens of review the Court announces here. Thomas wrote:
“In keeping with Heller, we hold that when the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct. To justify its regulation, the government may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest. Rather, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”
Timothy Sullivan was an infamously corrupt member of a New York Democrat crime family come political power group known as Tammany Hall. He is responsible for the “Sullivan Law,” which, in 1911, made it a felony to carry a firearm in New York without a license and saw to it that few if any licenses would be issued. So, while licenses to carry firearms have been “available,” they have been unattainable. The system was set up to deny rather than permit the issuance of licenses and the expression of Second Amendment rights. Five other states, plus Puerto Rico, followed a similar system with similar results, and they will have to change their practices due to this new ruling.
Many other existing gun laws and regulations will now be challenged too. The Firearms Policy Coalition’s Director of Constitutional Studies, Joseph Greenlee, said: “Today’s decision will allow FPC Law to press our current cases and to challenge many laws that were upheld in prior cases, potentially allowing many of the freedoms lost to be restored in the years to come.”
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