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Supreme Court Ruling Protects Constitutional Right to Self-Defense

"Constitutional Carry" is the law of the land

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling on June 23, struck down a New York State regulation that made it difficult to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun. 

“Law-abiding citizens have a similar right to carry handguns publicly for their self-defense,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas in the majority opinion. The Second and Fourteenth Amendments, “protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” 

In their dissent, Justices Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor cited 45,222 Americans “killed by firearms” and recent mass shootings. In a response to the dissent, Justice Samuel Alito noted a recent mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. “The New York law at issue in this case obviously did not stop that perpetrator.” 

In her response to the ruling, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said “I’m sorry this dark day has come,” contending that when the Constitution was ratified “the only weapons at the time were muskets.” Television host Brittany Hughes countered that “the only politicians at that time were men,” and wondered if Hochul’s personal security detail would switch to muskets. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom also warned of  a “dark day in America,” charging that the court was “hellbent on pushing a radical ideological agenda and infringing on the rights of states to protect our citizens from being gunned down in our streets, schools and churches.” 

California has some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws. In late 2019, those laws did not stop criminal Gustavo Perez Arriaga, also known as Paolo Virgen Mendoza from gunning down Newman, California, police officer Ronil Singh, a legal immigrant from Fiji. Governor-elect Newsom was a no-show at the funeral and failed even to condemn the murder as “gun violence.” 

One of Newsom’s first acts as governor was to reprieve 737 convicted murderers on California’s death row. These were the worst of the worst, including Luis Bracamontes, who murdered police officers Danny Oliver and Michael Davis in Sacramento in 2014. If Californians believed the governor is more friendly to criminals than their victims it would be hard to blame them. 

For a treatment of guns and the Constitution, see That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right, by Stephen P. Halbrook. For what happens when those with all the power have all the guns, see the author’s Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State,” and Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance


K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at American Greatness.
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