Congressional candidate and former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed outrage Thursday that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down New York state’s concealed-carry law, under which it was illegal to carry a gun in public without a permit.
Obtaining a permit had required petitioners to show “proper cause,” or a special need, to carry a gun outside their home. That requirement has now been nullified in New York and seven other states with similar restrictions.
In a 6-3 ruling, from which the court’s liberals dissented, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that the state law deprived the plaintiffs — two upstate New York men who wanted to carry their guns in public regardless of special need — “by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.”
“This Supreme Court just made us less safe," de Blasio told Yahoo News in a telephone interview on Thursday afternoon, predicting that although the ruling represents a victory for the right, the decision will in fact motivate the left.
“It's going to enrage people all over the country — in particular parents who are just so scared for their children,” de Blasio said. The former mayor is currently running for a newly redrawn U.S. House seat in a crowded Democratic primary. If elected, he’ll represent much of lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn in Congress.
A recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll showed that most Americans favor stricter gun laws. Mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, have fostered a rare consensus on Capitol Hill, where a modest but nevertheless significant gun control bill appears to be headed for passage.
“NYPD adamantly, adamantly wanted to protect our current law," de Blasio said, referring to the New York Police Department. He said the decision "spits in the face of our police officers."
De Blasio’s successor in City Hall issued a similarly blistering assessment of the decision. “We cannot allow New York to become the wild, wild West,” Mayor Eric Adams, himself a former police officer, said at City Hall.
Adams and the city’s police commissioner, Keechant Sewell, echoed other Democratic leaders around the country in promising to find ways to continue limiting where guns can be carried. An expansion of the right to carry guns in public does not mean it will be universally permissible to do so.
“The important thing to know today is that nothing changes,” Sewell warned. “If you carry a gun illegally in New York City, you will be arrested.”
But the city’s former police commissioner Bill Bratton told Yahoo News that it is too early to tell just what the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision will be on public safety in large cities like New York.
Police officers in the eight states whose concealed-carry provisions have been nullified “may be wary now” about “their average encounters with citizens,” he said. At the same time, “there will be a lot of places that will restrict you from bringing a firearm," Bratton added, observing that partisan opinions on the ruling were potentially missing nuances in the law.
“We are definitely going to have to let the dust settle a little," he said.
In a concurring opinion Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that states would still be allowed to implement licensing requirements, regulate the sale of firearms and ban guns from certain areas, such as schools and government buildings. Kavanaugh’s opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court’s conservative-leaning swing vote.
“Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” Kavanaugh wrote, quoting the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.