Supreme Court decides ‘proper cause’ needed for concealed carry license is unconstitutional

The Supreme Court has decided that New York’s policy of “proper cause” to be needed to get a concealed carry license violates the Constitution.

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The decision was 6-3 to strike down the New York gun law with the majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Thomas wrote in the decision “that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”

Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanugh wrote the concurring opinions. You can read their concurring opinions starting on page 70 in the Scribd embed below, or click here.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan issued the dissenting opinion citing the 277 mass shootings in the U.S. since the start of 2022. You can read their dissenting opinion starting on page 84 of the Scribd embed below, or click here.

The case focused on whether a New York gun permitting law that’s been in place since 1913 violates an individual’s right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. The law requires that people show “proper cause,” or a demonstrated need to carry a weapon, in order to get permits to publicly carry concealed handguns for self-defense, according to The Associated Press.

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and New Yorkers Robert Nash and Brandon Koch filed suit after Nash and Koch were denied unrestricted licenses to carry firearms outside their homes for self-defense, according to court records. To support his request, Nash pointed to a string of recent robberies in his neighborhood and advanced firearm safety training he’d gotten. Koch cited extensive firearms safety and operations training that he’d received.

Both men were granted only restricted licenses allowing them to carry firearms for hunting and target shooting, The New York Times reported. Koch was also allowed to carry a gun to and from work, according to the newspaper.

In court records, Paul Clement, who is representing Nash and Koch, argued that the New York law makes it “virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen to obtain a license.”

“It is only by demonstrating that he or she is ‘special’ (i.e. not a typical law-abiding citizen) and by showing an atypical reason for wanting to carry a handgun for self-defense that an individual applicant can hope to satisfy New York’s ‘proper cause’ test,” Clement argued. “As a practical matter, New York’s insistence upon something atypical precludes typical New Yorkers from carrying their handguns for self-defense.”

State attorneys pointed to previous precedent in which courts determined that the New York law did not violate the Second Amendment.

Justices heard arguments over the law in November.


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