WASHINGTON (WIVB) — On Thursday, Western New York leaders responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling that repealed part of a century-old state gun law.
The Supreme Court said it is unconstitutional to require a reason for a “hidden to wear” license. The court hasn’t ruled on weapons this important in about a decade.
Gun rights advocates say this is a step forward and will make the United States safer.
“If you disarm us, you leave us defenseless against the Tops shooter. You leave us defenseless against the Texas gunman. The bad guys will have the weapons. The question is whether the law-abiding people will have them,” said James Ostrowski, attorney for the second amendment.
The Supreme Court’s 6-3 ruling said that based on history, states can no longer request a reason to carry a concealed firearm. The Tops mass shooting on Jefferson Ave. was also mentioned in both the consensus and the dissent. Justice Samuel Alito agreed with the ruling, saying New York law would not have prevented the Tops Mass Shooting. In the altercation, Judge Stephen Breyer said mass shootings show how dangerous firearms are.
“I think this is going to be a very painful day for many people, especially families in Buffalo and families in other parts of the country who have been victims of gun violence,” said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.
Mayor Brown said adding more guns to the streets will not make them safer. He argues that by adding more legal guns, there will be more illegal guns in western New York.
“We have seen the massacre, the mass shootings, [and] the crime. I don’t think this is a matter of law enforcement. I think this is a case of weakening the law,” added Mayor Brown.
Gun rights advocates said allowing concealment could deter criminals from committing such crimes.
“The bad guys know it’s hard to get that carrying license. Only a small number of people will get it, so a small number of people will be disarmed. Now they will have to ask themselves whether there are more people with the right to bear arms,” Ostrowski continued.
Law enforcement experts warn that this will not change the lengthy New York gun licensing process.
“I think you’ll see the New York state gun license process go through. They simply cannot limit your purpose for carrying a weapon,” said Jeff Rinaldo, partner at Vista Security Group.
New York state cannot appeal this decision, but Governor Kathy Hochul promised to work with lawmakers to strengthen gun laws within these new borders.
“There are no objections other than this. The legislature can enact some laws to get around this,” said Chris Pannozzo, legal analyst and attorney at O’Brien and Ford, PC.
According to the latest Siena College poll, 79 percent of New York voters hoped the Supreme Court would uphold the New York law requiring a license to carry a concealed firearm.
Across the court, Capitol lawmakers rushed to pass gun laws, prompted by recent massacres in Texas, New York and California. Senators paved the way for the measure, modest in scope but still the most far-reaching in decades.
Also, to underscore the nation’s deep division over the issue, the sister of a 9-year-old girl killed in the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, pleaded with state lawmakers to pass gun laws. The Republican-controlled legislature has abolished gun restrictions over the past decade.
President Joe Biden said in a statement that he was “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court ruling. It “is against both common sense and the Constitution, and would be of great concern to all of us,” he said. He also encourages states to make new laws.
Judge Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution “protects a person’s right to carry a gun outdoors for self-defense”. That right is not a ‘second-class right’, Thomas wrote. “We know of no other constitutional right that a person may exercise only after demonstrating a special need to government officials.”
California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island all have laws similar to those of New York. Those laws are expected to be challenged soon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Tara Lynch is a Born of Buffalo, who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, NY, a sister station to News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.