Skip to Main Content

Giffords Law Center Condemns Ahistorical, Extremist Ruling from Supreme Court Conservatives in Bruen

Washington DC — Today a conservative supermajority in the Supreme Court issued a decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, finding that there is a constitutional right to carry a handgun outside the home for self defense. The ruling overturns a New York State law that has stood for more than a hundred years and which has deep historical roots going back to the founding days of the nation.

Six unelected judges—three of whom were nominated by President Trump—just issued a decision that will drastically affect the safety of a large swath of the US population. The gun lobby wants a world where everyone is carrying guns, but more guns in public will only escalate gun violence, leading ever more people to feel unsafe in their own communities. Some of those people will then buy guns, which in turn will further escalate the cycle of violence. 

This decision removing the rights of states to regulate guns in public comes as the same conservative Justices are poised to allow states to ban abortion and end a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. Immediately at risk are other laws similar to the New York law struck down in part today: five other states (CA, HI, MA, MD, NJ) and the District of Columbia have similarly strong concealed carry licensing laws. These laws, as well as laws in dozens of states that require some form of licensing for concealed carry, are jeopardized by this ruling against New York. 

Esther Sanchez-Gomez, Senior Litigation Attorney:

“Today the court grossly expanded the Second Amendment right into our public spaces. This extreme ruling by the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority imposes the gun lobby’s dangerous ‘guns everywhere’ agenda on all of us, thwarting the will of the people, their elected representatives, and rejecting scientific research demonstrating the danger of guns in our public spaces. Unfortunately, the gun lobby has found a sympathetic new ear in the conservative justices.

“The Court’s decision will usher in a new era of Second Amendment litigation, one in which courts will be allowed to only look backwards to history when they assess challenges under the Second Amendment. Public health research showing the danger of guns and the efficacy of gun safety laws have lost their rightful place at the center of this conversation. Today’s decision all but ensures that the gun lobby will come after many other evidence-backed gun safety laws across the country.”

At 2 pm Eastern today, Giffords, Everytown, Brady, and March for Our Lives will host a press call about this decision. Register here.

Gun Safety Laws Everywhere Threatened by This “Guns Everywhere” Ruling

This adverse decision also poses a long-term threat to other gun safety laws across the country—from assault weapon restrictions to prohibitions on gun access by domestic abuse offenders.

Until recently, judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans have overwhelmingly interpreted the Second Amendment, and the Supreme Court’s landmark 2008 Heller decision, to support the constitutionality of a variety of reasonable gun laws, many of which have been on the books for decades. But President Trump’s judicial appointees, including his three Supreme Court justices, are different and extreme: they have issued troubling rulings adopting the NRA’s position that gun laws are presumptively invalid. 

The arguments advanced by the NRA show that they are really using this as a test case to push their absolutist position that the Second Amendment is an unlimited right to purchase, carry, and use firearms of any type whenever or wherever someone chooses. This would promote gun industry profits on increasingly lethal firearms at the expense of public safety. Our progress against gun violence is on the line.

Communities of Color Will Bear the Brunt of This Dangerous Ruling

Black and Brown Americans, Indigenous people and people of color, as well as women and LGBTQ Americans, will likely bear the brunt of an increase in gun violence. It’s especially clear that forcing more guns into more public places will subject more people of color to violence at the hands of the police and armed civilians. When armed civilians believe they are entitled to police others with guns, more people of color suffer unjustified violence, and we are likely to see more domestic violence and hate crimes as well. 

This ruling against New York’s law is likely to empower those engaged in political and racially-motivated violence, and members of unlawful militias. Groups supporting the NRA have argued they have a broad right to carry and use guns beyond self-defense. They claim they have a right to “be their own first responders” in light of unprecedented violence they inaccurately attribute to racial justice protests. 

This decision is positioned to spur unlawful militia activity and increase violence at protests, as well embolden those inclined to vigilante justice. This will not only threaten public safety, but also undermine First Amendment rights, the rule of law, and free political participation in our democracy.

As the gun lobby ramps up its aggressive litigation strategy and tries to unravel all gun safety laws, Giffords Law Center’s work is more important than ever. Giffords Law Center has been leading the way protecting states and communities from court challenges, and we’re ready to go to court to do the same in the aftermath of this ruling. Our attorneys are going to keep fighting to protect commonsense gun laws in courts across the country.