Supreme Court Sides With Gun Access Over Preventing Gun Deaths

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Gun Safety

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Carolyn Bobb

June 23, 2022, Washington, D.C. – Today the Supreme Court issued its 6-3 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, overturning a century-old New York state law limiting access to concealed-carry licenses for guns. Though such laws have been shown to reduce gun deaths, the conservative majority seized the opportunity to further expand access to firearms, with Justice Thomas suggesting in the majority opinion that such evidence cannot even be considered in future gun cases. The ruling follows weeks of mass shootings and hate crimes in Buffalo, Uvalde, California, and elsewhere committed using firearms that were legally purchased.  

This opinion marks the biggest expansion of gun rights since the Court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller. As Justice Breyer notes in his dissent, the majority’s singular focus on history completely ignores the government’s interest in protecting lives from gun violence — and gets the history wrong too. “The historical evidence reveals a 700-year Anglo-American tradition of regulating the public carriage of firearms in general, and concealed or concealable firearms in particular. The Court spends more than half of its opinion trying to discredit this tradition,” Breyer wrote.  

“Because I cannot agree with the Court’s decision to strike New York’s law down without allowing for discovery or the development of any evidentiary record, without considering the State’s compelling interest in preventing gun violence and protecting the safety of its citizens, and without considering the potentially deadly consequences of its decision, I respectfully dissent,” he concluded.  

Alliance for Justice President Rakim H.D. Brooks issued the following statement:  

“Do not be fooled; this is not a decision informed by text, history, or precedent. The Trump Court has just broken with decades of established precedent and 700 years of history to create a constitutional right to the concealed carry of firearms in a nation plagued by gun violence. How many more schools, grocery stores, churches, and synagogues will be targeted because of this ruling? That is the question every sensible person is asking themselves — all except these conservative justices. By ruling that deadly firearms cannot be regulated, they have dismissively shrugged at the consequences: more gun-related homicides in a nation already mourning too many murders. One is only left to wonder if the justices waited until Buffalo and Uvalde were no longer dominating the headlines before releasing this opinion. 

“This nakedly unlawful decision is further proof that the Trump Court is not engaged in judicial interpretation, but rank politics. This is not a decision that protects anyone’s freedom or liberty. There can be no liberty or pursuit of happiness if there is no life. We are a less safe nation today than we were yesterday, and that should terrify us all.”