Biden says Supreme Court gun law ruling 'should deeply trouble us all'

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The Supreme Court decision striking down a New York gun law sets a precedent as gun rights advocates in other states look to loosen restrictions on gun ownership.

President Joe Biden, responding to the Supreme Court's decision on Thursday striking down a New York law restricting the carrying of concealed handguns, said the ruling "contradicts both common sense and the Constitution."

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the conservative majority on the court, said that the law, which required people to demonstrate a specific need in order to obtain a license to carry a gun in public, violated the Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms."

Biden said in his official statement:

I am deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court's ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Since 1911, the State of New York has required individuals who would like to carry a concealed weapon in public to show a need to do so for the purpose of self-defense and to acquire a license. More than a century later, the United States Supreme Court has chosen to strike down New York's long-established authority to protect its citizens. This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.

 

In the wake of the horrific attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde, as well as the daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines, we must do more as a society — not less — to protect our fellow Americans. I remain committed to doing everything in my power to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer. I have already taken more executive actions to reduce gun violence than any other President during their first year in office, and I will continue to do all that I can to protect Americans from gun violence.

Biden added, "I urge states to continue to enact and enforce commonsense laws to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence."

The Supreme Court's ruling bolsters challenges to similar laws that have been enacted in California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, and Hawaii.

The six justices who supported the ruling were appointed by Republican presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump, while the three opposing the decision were appointed by Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul criticized the decision in a speech on Thursday, saying:

Today, the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that limits who can carry concealed weapons. Does everyone understand what a concealed weapon means? That you have no forewarning that someone can hide a weapon on them and go into our subways, go into our grocery stores like stores up in Buffalo, New York, where I'm from, go into a school in Parkland or Uvalde.

 

This could place millions of New Yorkers in harm's way. And this is at a time when we're still mourning the loss of lives, as I just mentioned. This decision isn't just reckless, it's reprehensible. It's not what New Yorkers want, and we should have the right of determination of what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state.

Among the recent mass shootings that closely preceded the court's ruling were two in New York.

In April, at least 23 people were injured when a gunman carried out an attack with a handgun at a subway station in Brooklyn.

In May, 10 people were killed when a gunman with a documented history of adherence to racist conspiracy theories popularized by conservative commentators and politicians attacked a supermarket in a majority-Black neighborhood Buffalo. All of those who died were Black.

Biden has expressed support for a package of gun safety reforms introduced in the Senate in the wake of the mass shooting in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two adults were killed.

The legislation would make background checks for younger gun buyers more stringent; introduce new legal penalties for the trafficking and straw purchasing of firearms; and provide for additional safeguards aimed at reducing gun violence. Despite the popularity of the measures included, most Senate Republicans voted to block the legislation from advancing in the Senate on Thursday, but all Democrats and 15 Republicans broke a Republican-led filibuster.

During his presidency, Biden has enacted federal rules aimed at combating the growing use of homemade "ghost guns" and has called on the Senate to confirm his nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which hasn't had a permanent director in seven years.

Republicans, however, continue to oppose gun safety measures. In June, nearly every Republican in the House voted against gun safety legislation following the Uvalde shootings.

Republican members of Congress said mass shootings were not caused by the wide availability of guns but instead blamed door locks, smartphones, and "taking God's name in vain."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.