This decision was made by six of the nine judges, all conservative, of the highest American court, which validated a law of the State of New York on the carrying of weapons.
The United States Supreme Court made clear on Thursday (June 23) for the first time that Americans have the right to carry guns outside their homes, in a ruling that risks complicating efforts to combat already alarming violence.
His six conservative justices, against the advice of their three progressive colleagues, struck down a New York state law that for more than a century had severely limited gun licenses. The decision comes as the United States is still reeling from a series of deadly shootings, one of which, on May 24, killed 21 people in a Texas elementary school, pushing Republican senators hitherto hostile to any regulation on arms to support modest reforms.
The lobby cries victory
“Deeply disappointed“, Democratic President Joe Biden regretted a stop “contrary to common sense” who “should worry us all“. New York State Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, for her part, denounced a decision “shameful in full national consciousness on the violence of the weapons.»
Conversely celebrating a “huge victory”, the powerful arms lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), hailed a “turning point for the righteous men and women of America and the result of decades of struggle“. In concrete terms, the decision relates to a New York law which, since 1913, has limited the issue of permits to carry concealed weapons to people who have reason to believe that they may have to defend themselves, for example because of their profession or threats against them.
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It had been challenged in court by two gun owners, who had been denied licenses, and an affiliate of the NRA, which campaigns for a literal reading of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Ratified in 1791, it states that “a well-organized militia being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms will not be infringed“.
In 1939, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protected the right to use weapons as part of a law enforcement force, such as the military or police, but was not an individual right. to self-defense. She changed her position during a historic judgment in 2008 and established for the first time an individual right to possess a weapon in her home for self-defense.
At the time, however, it left it to cities and states to regulate out-of-home transportation, so currently the rules vary widely from place to place. Thursday’s judgment puts an end to this latitude by setting in stone the right to carry “a handgun outside his home“.
“Nothing in the Second Amendment makes a distinction between the home or public places when it comes to carrying guns.writes Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas on behalf of the majority. “Reasonable and well-defined restrictions» remain possible, in particular in the «sensitive placeslike legislatures or courts, but it will be up to the courts to assess them taking into account “history and traditionsAmericans, he writes.
The three progressive justices of the Court dissociated themselves from this judgment which, according to them, “severely limits states’ efforts to try to limit gun violence“. The Court actswithout considering the potentially deadly consequences of his decision“, regretted in their name the magistrate Stephen Breyer, recalling that”in 2020, 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms“.
Initially, the decision should bring down laws similar to that of New York in force in five other states, including some very populated like California or New Jersey, and the city of Washington. Other restrictions in force mainly in Democratic states could be challenged in court under this new legal framework.
Nearly 400 million guns were in circulation among the civilian population in the United States in 2017, or 120 guns for every 100 people, according to the Small Arms Survey project. Last year, more than 20,000 gun homicides were recorded on the Gun Violence Archive.
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