Landmark Supreme Court Ruling Ushers in New Era of Gun Debate

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In modern U.S. history, you can count on one hand the number of Supreme Court cases that clarify what the Second Amendment really means. The Bruen ruling is one of them.

In the recent ruling for New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, the court spoke, for the first time, that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to carry a handgun for self-defense in public.

The ruling directly struck down New York’s concealed carry law and endangered similar laws in other states, drawing praise from gun rights communities and resistance from politicians in impacted states.

The Supreme Court ruling followed a string of mass shootings across the country, and many states have vowed to circumvent the Bruen ruling by passing tougher gun laws.

However, going forward, for any new gun laws—or even existing gun laws—to stand in court, they must pass a new test held by the Bruen ruling.

Governments must now look to history—and history only—to justify gun laws in court. They can no longer, as they have overwhelmingly done in the past decade, justify gun laws as a necessary means to control crime.

This new standard will reset the nation’s gun law litigations for generations to come.

Historical Expansion of Gun Rights

For a long time, the Second Amendment was understood as a right exclusive to the militia, according to Robert Spitzer, a distinguished service professor emeritus of political science at the State University of New York at Cortland and author of several books on gun rights and regulations.

The first major expansion of the definition of the Second Amendment came in 2008. That year, the Supreme Court decided in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment affords ordinary people—not just members of militia—a constitutional right to have a handgun for self-defense at home.

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