Are state gun laws headed for a major overhaul by the United States Supreme Court? The case of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, gun advocates are challenging New York’s regulatory scheme for obtaining a License to Carry a Concealed Firearm. At the heart of the case is whether New York can require applicants demonstrate a good reason for wanting to carry a gun.
This case could have an enormous impact on firearm laws. If the New York law is struck down as an unlawful infringement on Second Amendment rights, the vast majority Democratic-leaning states would find that their gun laws are unconstitutional. The nation would start looking a lot more like Texas, where essentially any adult can carry a firearm in most public places, without permit or license.
Beyond actual firearm laws, the law could have ripple effects on cases involving carrying other weapons. States routinely ban the carrying of weapons such as nunchaku, daggers, brass knuckles, blackjacks, and switchblades. It is not clear that these laws can survive if New York’s law is struck down. After all, if it is unconstitutional to require a reason for carrying a firearm, it makes sense that the same would apply to less deadly weapons that are carried for self-defense.
Still unclear is whether the major police unions will support New York’s restrictions, or weigh-in in favor of gun rights advocates. Historically, police groups have supported gun control measures in the interest of their members’ safety. But as culture-war biases overtake traditional parochial political interests, police unions may decide that they cannot afford to go against their right-wing supporters, even if it makes life more dangerous for their members.
If New York’s regulatory scheme is struck down, the scope of the short and long-term consequences will only be known over time. But it is very clear that if this happens, gun laws throughout the nation will have to be changed.