The United States Supreme Court struck down a New York state gun law on Thursday, enshrining the right of Americans to leave their homes armed.
The decision, taken by a majority of six judges out of nine, all conservative, comes as the country is still reeling from a series of deadly shootings, one of which, on 24 May, killed 21 at a Texas elementary school.
“The Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution protect an individual's right to carry a handgun for self-defense outdoors. from his home,” wrote Judge Clarence Thomas for the majority.
The Court acts “without considering the potentially fatal consequences of its decision”, regretted its progressive colleague Stephen Breyer in a separate argument, recalling that “in 2020, 45,222 Americans were killed by firearms”.
The powerful arms lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), immediately hailed a “victory”. The decision, on the other hand, represents a strong snub for the supporters of a better regulation of firearms, whose efforts it will complicate.
Concretely, it relates to a law which, since 1913, has limited the issuance 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.
It had been challenged in court by two gun owners, who had been denied licenses, and an NRA affiliate.
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The NRA advocates 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 to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
In 1939, the Supreme Court ruled that it protected the right to use arms 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 stance in a landmark 2008 ruling and established for the first time a right to own a gun in her home for self-defense.
She left it up to cities and states, however. to regulate transport outside the home, so the rules vary greatly from place to place.
Thursday's judgment puts an end to this latitude by setting in stone the right to carry a weapon.
As a first step, he should bring down laws similar to that of New York in force in other states, including some very populated ones like California or New Jersey.
Other restrictions in force mainly in democratic states could be challenged in court under this new legal framework.
Nearly 400 million weapons were in circulation in the civilian population in the United States in 2017, or 120 weapons per 100 people, according to the Small Arms Survey project.
Last year, more than 20 0 00 gun homicides have been recorded on the Gun Violence Archive.