The nation's highest court ruled 6-3 that the state of New York was not allowed to require those who seek a gun license to prove "proper cause" to carry concealed weapons. The New York law that was struck down previously required residents to show they faced "a special or unique" danger to obtain a license.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote Thursday's ruling on behalf of the court's conservative majority. They found New York's "proper cause" mandate was unconstitutional because Americans have the right to publicly carry "commonly used" guns for self-defense, per the ruling.
Justice Thomas penned that the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment isn't a "second class" constitutional right that can be subjected to tighter restrictions.
The court's decision follows intense debate over firearms as back-to-back mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde have spotlighted the nation's ongoing gun violence problem.
The court’s three liberal justices, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer, dissented from the ruling.
In his dissent, Justice Breyer pointed to the number of lives taken this year from gun violence.
"Since the start of this year alone (2022), there have already been 277 reported mass shootings - an average of more than one per day," Breyer said.
Immediately after the decision came down, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul said it was "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."
President Joe Biden added that he was "deeply disappointed" by the ruling, which "contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should trouble us all".
Thursday's Supreme Court ruling is set to affect a number of states with similar restrictions including California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey.