The United States Supreme Court enshrines the right to bear arms in public | International

A luxury department store, two steps from the tourist Central Park, warns on a sign that customers with weapons are prohibited from entering. It is not the Far West at its peak, but the civilized Big Apple. In less favored neighborhoods, shootings between teenagers are common currency; also the daily sum of fatalities due to a stray bullet or a robbery that ends badly. If this happens in the state with one of the most restrictive laws in the US, many New Yorkers wonder what will happen after the Supreme Court gave the green light this Thursday to carry firearms in public spaces, in a decision that the Governor of New York, Democrat Kathy Hochul, has described as “absolutely surprising”, in addition to lamenting the blow of justice as “a black day”.

The decision of the High Court, which considers that New York violates the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment, is a jug of ice water on a State overwhelmed, despite the current legislation, by a wave of violence since 2020, and by extension for the rest of the states. Armed commuters on the subway? People with guns on their belts in the parks or in line at the supermarket? The Supreme Court’s ruling, the second most important since 2008, when it ruled the right to keep weapons in the home for self-defense under the Second Amendment, raises more questions than answers.

The law in force in the State of New York, the so-called Sullivan Act of 1913, required that those who have a gun license show good cause that compels them to carry one. But the conservative majority of the Supreme has given the reason, by six votes in favor and three against, to two individuals, Brandon Koch and Robert Nash, adults and residents of the north of the State and who claimed their right to take them without any requirement, to your whim. The case was brought on their behalf by the local chapter of the National Rifle Association (NRA; main gun lobby). In addition to the fear of an increase in shootings, of which the city is the periodic scene, many wonder how this will be regulated in public places such as the subway and buses, which have not been immune to incidents with firearms.

The two plaintiffs obtained restricted licenses that allowed them to carry hunting and target shooting weapons; one of them was also allowed to carry one on his commute to work. Both were denied the comprehensive permit they want because they did not show a “just cause” as required by law, the most restrictive in the country, along with that of seven other states, in this regard. Lawyers for the local chapter of the NRA challenged the rule, forcing the Supreme Court’s decision. “The zeal of [el Estado de] New York is unfounded and leaves New Yorkers unarmed in the face of evil,” the spokesperson for another pro-gun group summed up the cause in statements to New York Times. “I don’t think we can forget that we’re talking about an instrument that is designed to kill people,” he said in November, when the New York case reached the Supreme Court, Richard Dearing, New York City’s appellate chief.

Following the massacres in Buffalo (10 dead) and Uvalde (21), the State of New York recently raised the legal age to buy semi-automatic weapons. It was the main measure of a pack of ten to curb the violent drift. The call red flag lawwhich authorizes a judge to confiscate the weapon of someone who constitutes a threat to third parties or to himself, was already in force in New York, among other states, although it could not prevent the racist massacre in Buffalo on May 14 because the background of the author – he had made death threats in his high school – had been misplaced. But the red flag is effective in many other cases: in Suffolk County, the justice system has ordered more than a hundred times in two years to confiscate the weapon of someone who constituted a threat to himself or to the community. In that period, more than 160 weapons were withdrawn from circulation.

The one in New York is much more ambitious legislation than the modest bipartisan agreement on gun control, a timid first step towards federal regulation to stop the epidemic of armed violence that the country suffers (the epidemic qualification is from the White House) . That is why the Supreme Court ruling is considered a setback that will give wings to the powerful lobby pro-guns not only by activists and experts, but also by many neighbors, fearful of unexpectedly being caught in the crossfire or meet a bullet in its path. Any walker through the streets of the city, even if not apprehensive, is assailed from time to time by such a possibility.

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A contingency that also worries the authorities. “This matter keeps me up at night, it’s going to be a real disaster for the police,” the mayor, Eric Adams, recently warned. “Can you imagine riding in a subway car with someone carrying a nine millimeter?” The reaction of the alderman, known for his enthusiastic defense of law and order, also introduces another added factor: the overload, in terms of surveillance and deployment, of the police. A thousand officers have patrolled the New York suburban as reinforcement since the beginning of the year, precisely as a result of a succession of violent events, and for many residents an additional presence would be excessive. However, the reality of the Big Apple is alien to the considerations of New Yorkers who live in rural or isolated areas, in the north of the State, like the two plaintiffs; areas where the possession of weapons is customary.

The Supreme Court’s decision may also trigger, as critics fear, the proliferation of legal weapons on the streets, that is, those obtained with the required license. Added to this is the flood of illegal weapons ―there are no weapons factories in the State―, which arrive in large quantities through the so-called Iron Pipelines, the route used to smuggle weapons from the southern states and the Midwest of the country. Among the illegal ones, a high percentage corresponds to the so-called ghost weapons, assembled from parts and without a serial number. New York treasures too many examples, in recent months, of this armed violence without quarter.

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