The US Supreme Court has ruled that Americans have a fundamental right to carry handguns in public, despite a surge in gun violence across the country.
The 6-3 landmark decision, issued on Thursday, will have far-reaching implications for American states and cities grappling with violence caused by firearms.
US President Joe Biden condemned the decision, saying it "contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all."
"We must do more as a society -- not less -- to protect our fellow Americans," Biden said. "I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety."
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat described the ruling as "very disturbing,” after the court struck down a more than 100-old New York law that required a person to prove they had a legitimate self-defense need, or "proper cause," to carry a handgun outside the home.
Hochul said her state had been prepared for it and will pursue conforming gun-licensing policies.
"It is outrageous that at a moment of national reckoning on gun violence, the Supreme Court has recklessly struck down a New York law that limits those who can carry concealed weapons," Hochul said.
"This is a dangerous decision from a court hell bent 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," Newsom tweeted.
Several other states have similar laws where the court's ruling will curtail their ability to bar people from carrying guns in public.
Democratic leaders in California had anticipated the decision and said they would now pass the most restrictive rules allowed under the Supreme Court's ruling.
The court sided with the Americans who said the US Constitution guarantees the right to own and carry guns, despite growing calls for limits on firearms after two horrific mass shootings in May.
On May 24, nineteen students and two teachers were shot and killed at Robb Elementary School by a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, 10 days after a mass shooting at a store in Buffalo, New York, left 10 people dead.
Police say the gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the school with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle after shooting his grandmother, who survived.
More than 45,000 people were killed by gun violence in the United States last year, up from 43,671 in 2020 and 39,581 in 2019, according to FBI data.
Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams predicted that more disputes would end in violence once it becomes easier for people to carry a gun around the city.
"This decision has made every single one of us less safe from gun violence," Adams said at a news conference. "The decision ignores the shocking crisis of gun violence every day engulfing not only New York but engulfing our entire country."
The ruling was a stunning victory for the National Rifle Association (NRA) lobby group, which brought the case along with two New York men who had not been issued gun permits.
"Today's ruling is a watershed win for good men and women all across America and is the result of a decades-long fight the NRA has led," NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said in a statement.
"The right to self-defense and to defend your family and loved ones should not end at your home."
NRA has also announced that it opposes gun safety reforms proposed by a bipartisan group of senators, saying the new legislation will put “unnecessary burdens on the exercise of Second Amendment freedom.”
The powerful gun lobby said in a statement on Tuesday said it will back proposed legislation that will improve school safety, promote mental health services and help reduce violence.
Biden earlier this month called for banning semi-automatic, assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, or at least raising the minimum age to buy those weapons from 18 to 21. The gunmen in the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings were both 18 and used semi-automatic rifles.
A new poll by the ABC/Ipsos poll said 7 out of 10 people in the country prioritize laws reducing gun violence over gun rights.
Most Democrats said lawmakers should prioritize laws focused on reducing gun violence while about half of the Republican respondents said protecting the rights of gun owners is a higher priority.
The poll was conducted from June 3 to 4 as the country mourned those killed in multiple mass shootings, including 10 at a grocery store in New York 21 at an elementary school in Texas.
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