Next steps for states with gun laws that are strict

Thursday, June 23, 2022
author picture Isanes Francois
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Demographics of the Supreme Court

The demographics of the U.S. Supreme Court are changing. There are now more Latino justices than ever before‚ with the number of Latino justices on the court rising from 14 percent in April 2000 to 18 percent in April 2021. There are also more women on the court‚ with seven women and ten people of color. Two states have elected the first woman as state Supreme Court justice.

On Thursday‚ the U.S. Supreme Court. New york state law was struck down it had made it difficult for people to obtain permits to bring guns in public. New Yorkers had to prove that they have the right or actual need to conceal a handgun in order to defend themselves. Justices ruled that the law violates Second Amendments rights to bear arms. It was withdrawn swift reaction from New York Governor. Kathy Hochul (Democrat) called the decision irresponsible and stated that she would call the Legislature back to session in order to formulate a response. She stated that concealed weapon-wielding people are not allowed to enter our subways or restaurants‚ nor our movie theatres. There are no more weapons on the streets. New York A half-dozen other states that have similar laws must now decide what their next steps will be. California‚ Hawaii and Massachusetts all have legislatures that are controlled by Democrats. These legislators could be able to propose laws to ban guns from certain areas. These gun rights organizations in these states vow to keep fighting for stricter gun control laws. Some of these cases could eventually make it to the nation's highest court. Here's a rundown of similar laws from other states and reaction to the Supreme Court decision. And what might happen next. CALIFORNIA According to the attorney general of California and rights groups representing gun owners‚ California's strict permitting laws will be affected by this court's decision. In a letter to California law enforcement agencies‚ Attorney General Rob Bonta stated that California has a similar standard and may have an impact on California firearm laws. He stated that many parts of California's law may remain unchanged despite this ruling. A three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. ruled that nearly two-thirds (58) of California's counties had already relaxed their requirements for conceal weapon permits. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the state's conceal carry rule in 2014. This was said by Chuck Michel‚ President of California Rifle and Pistol Association. Michel who was a writer on California's gun laws said that they kept the permissive standard despite a bigger appellate panel reversing the decision two year later. The issue here is what standard local officials use to decide who can carry concealed weapons outside of their homes. These include sheriffs and sometimes police chiefs. Gun rights activists claim that the New York court's decision to overturn the law now means California will join 43 other states with standards. They generally ask that permits be issued by officials unless an individual is denied. California has 58 counties. 37 of them already issue permits to self-defense applicants. Advocates said that this effectively means they shall issue counties. Other 21 counties are subject to stricter requirements‚ such as requiring that applicants prove that there is a business-related risk or that their professional activities justify arming them. Michel stated that the Supreme Court's decision affirms that the Constitution prohibits licensed public conceal carry firearms for self defense. However‚ it also states that the courts used the wrong approach in evaluating gun control laws. Michel's organisation plans to send 21 counties notices immediately that it has decided they have to relax their standards. The 9th Circuit will also be asked to decide on Michel's latest legal challenge against California's good-faith standard. This decision has been in limbo while awaiting U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in New York. Gun Owners of California executive director Sam Paredes said that his group expects to swiftly sue California in order to make it adopt the New York standard and then to sue any local authorities that don't. ___ HAWAII Hawaii is home to some of the most strict gun laws in America. Attorney Alan Beck said that Hawaii has strict gun laws. He said that it has been virtually impossible to obtain a permit for a gun to be carried in public. Beck represents several residents who challenge Hawaii's gun laws and said that four permits have been issued over the last 22 years. State attorney general's Office argued it isn't a blanket ban as people are allowed to carry guns if there's good reason. The Hawaii county police chiefs have the power to decide whether or not to issue carry permits. This is something that the Supreme Court has deemed too restrictive. People can keep guns in their homes and transport them to shooting ranges or other restricted locations‚ such as repairs. George Young is a Big Island resident that wants to be armed for self-defense. Beck has one of his clients. Young does not care whether the gun is concealed or open-carry. Beck stated that Young would win his lawsuit if the New York court case is a favorable one. According to Kainoa Kaku (the president of the Hawaii Rifle Association)‚ lawmakers will now work hard to prevent permits from being granted‚ regardless of exorbitant fees or training requirements. Kaku stated that we are ready to teach concealed carry permit holders any ridiculous state requirements. Chris Lee‚ state senator said that lawmakers had been preparing by proposing bills over the past few years to establish training for licensed gun owners. Thursday's decision was criticized by Lee. He said that there will be an urgency to find ways for states to intervene to ensure public safety. Chris Marvin is a Hawaii resident and member of Everytown for Gun Safety. He said that lawmakers could also consider legislation to vet applicants for carry permits and establish rules for keeping guns away from locations like protests and polling places. Marvin stated that allowing civilians to have guns in Hawaii would represent a cultural shift. Many people refer to paradise as a place they live‚ but that's usually because of the weather. He said that we are a relative safety and violence-free area. While we aren't perfect‚ and there have been violent incidents in the past‚ it wouldn't be surprising to see someone walking along Waikiki Beach with their sidearm visible on their hip. ___ MARYLAND Maryland law requires gun owners to prove a reason for carrying concealed guns. This could be a reason to carry a concealed gun‚ such as if someone is in imminent danger or if they are working in dangerous jobs. Brian Frosh‚ Maryland's Attorney General said that the Maryland laws were similar to New York's but take different approaches. To assess the impact of today's decision on Maryland‚ he said that he was reviewing it. Frosh stated that today's decision will lead to more gun violence and deaths in the country. Our streets‚ neighborhoods and public spaces will be more unsafe if firearms are the new norm. This will make law enforcement's lives more complicated and dangerous. Every day‚ the epidemic of gun violence in our country demonstrates how foolish it is to add more guns to this boiling pot. Maryland law opponents have already sued in a case currently on hold at the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals pending the New York ruling. Mark Pennak of Maryland Shall Issue is the president. He said that the gun-rights organization is thrilled about the court’s decision. He said that it confirmed what we have always believed: the self-defense right extends beyond the home. Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson‚ and House Speaker Adrienne‚ both Democrats‚ stated that they would review the decision and‚ if needed‚ pass gun control legislation. Public guns mean more violence. More violence equals more deaths and heartache. They said that this was the wrong solution in a joint statement. Second Amendment allows for reasonable limitations on firearms carrying rights. ___ MASSACHUSETTS Massachusetts law gave local police chiefs power to determine whether someone can be licensed to carry a gun. If they believe that the applicant would be a danger to public safety or have a record of domestic violence‚ police chiefs can deny them. If denied‚ applicants can appeal to the local district court. If they have good cause to fear injury‚ or to their property‚ or any other reason (not limited to sport and target practice)‚ then anyone deemed fit can apply for a permit to carry. Police chiefs have the power to decide what constitutes a good reason. They can vary how they ask applicants to comply with that standard. In order to obtain an unrestricted license‚ some police chiefs require applicants to show that they have a good reason to fear injury. Massachusetts court ruled that licenses may be restricted if there is no good reason for fearing injury. Maura Healey‚ the State Attorney General said that Thursday she will defend and enforce Massachusetts' commonsense gun laws. The Associated Press asked questions about the impact of this ruling on Massachusetts law. The office did not respond. Jason Guida is a former director at the Massachusetts Firearms Records Bureau and now works as an attorney representing gun owners. He said that he anticipates seeing a lot of challenge to restrictions on gun licensing in some communities like Boston. This would be contrary to what the courts have done in the past. He said that communities that limit gun owners' licenses to certain uses unless they have a need for self defense will need to revise their policies. Otherwise‚ it's likely that such communities will end up in federal court. David Linksy (Democrat State Representative) said he was still examining this ruling‚ but is very concerned about the potential impact on the police chiefs ability to exercise their discretion in issuing guns licenses. He stated that the end result will be an increased level of gun violence. We will be all less secure because there will be more people hurt‚ people will die‚ and people will get killed. In a 2017 case‚ a federal judge ruled that Massachusetts' law was in some ways less restrictive than New York's. This is because Massachusetts permits -- but not demands-- that police chiefs demand that applicants demonstrate an extraordinary need for self-defense in order to be issued an unrestricted license. Democratic state Rep. Michael Day said the Legislature is trying to figure out the best way to respond to the ruling. He said that we are taking a closer look to determine what that means. However‚ we feel confident that we can tighten up any areas that have been loosen up. ___ NEW JERSEY New Jersey residents don't have to prove a justified need for a gun in the wake of Thursday's Supreme Court decision. However‚ permits will still be required. Matthew Platkin‚ Acting Attorney General‚ stated in a telephone interview that New Jersey's law requiring residents to apply for carry permits must be proven that they are facing serious threats or have a legitimate need. He added that the New Jersey law also requires other things. Safety training is one of them‚ as well as a ban on certain convicts. Platkin did not specify when the changes would take effect but he said he will provide guidance as soon as possible. New Jersey's gun laws‚ which are some of the most restrictive in the country‚ were made even more stricter by former Republican Governor Chris Christie. In 2018‚ Chris Christie resigned from office. He was replaced by Phil Murphy (Democrat)‚ who signed a few new laws into law. Red flag laws and magazine size limitations were two of them. It is difficult to get a New Jersey carry permit. The state's justified need requirement was similar to New York's improper cause provision‚ which was recently thrown out of court. Murphy termed the Supreme Court's decision "tragic" on Thursday. A right-wing majority of the United States Supreme Court just stated that‚ due to a flawed constitution‚ states cannot decide how best they can limit firearms proliferation in public. New Jersey gun rights activists praised the decision. Scott Bach‚ the executive director of Association of New Jersey Rifle Pistol Clubs said that the ruling ends New Jersey's long-standing interference in the fundamental rights of people to self-defense using a firearm other than their home. New Jersey's Right-to-Carry laws are being challenged by gun rights groups. These cases are still pending. ___ NEW YORK New York's law‚ which has been in effect since 1913‚ stipulated that to be able to legally carry a firearm outside of the house‚ one must show proper cause and a real need. Although the law does not define proper cause‚ it gives local authorities -- usually a town justice or police department -- discretion in deciding whether licenses should be issued. It meant that most applicants needed to prove a need beyond the usual public safety concerns. Now that the court has made a ruling‚ lawmakers may add additional permitting conditions‚ like requiring firearm training‚ a mental evaluation or disqualifying applicants who have had certain criminal convictions. A law could also be passed by lawmakers that prohibits concealed weapon carry -- this could apply to public transportation systems‚ schools zones‚ bars and parks as well as government offices‚ polling places‚ or government offices. New York's handgun restrictions supporters claim that one of their concerns is that creating a market for handguns in New York‚ which currently barely exists there‚ will result in more guns being sold to prohibited buyers. ___ RHODE ISLAND According to the state attorney general‚ there were similarities in Rhode Island law with the New York one that was repealed. However‚ the office also noted important differences between their statutory systems for conceal carry permits. Rhode Island has two separate laws that deal with permits from municipalities as well as permits from the state attorney General's office. The Rhode Island Supreme Court has upheld Rhode Island's concealed-carry permit. In 2018 the office submitted an amicus brief to support a Massachusetts gun law. According to the court‚ the right of the state to bear and keep arms is an individual right that can be subject to regulation. Both the attorney general's and governor's offices indicated that they will review the Supreme Court ruling to determine its impact on Rhode Island. Requests for comments from the Rhode Island 2nd Amendment Coalition regarding whether they would challenge Rhode Island's permitting process were not answered immediately. The legislature will likely not respond until next year. However‚ Robert Craven‚ Democratic State Representative for Washington said that he was not surprised at the decision. He said that he saw the court heading in this direction. The court is interpreting the Second Amendment in a more strict way. It states what it says: You have a right of bear arms. Craven is an attorney who was also chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He asked if the court would use the same thinking process in cases regarding banning weapons military-style. ___ This report was contributed by Mike Catalini‚ Trenton‚ New Jersey‚ Jennifer Kelleher‚ and Jennifer McDermott‚ all Associated Press journalists. Also‚ Don Thompson‚ Marina Villeneuve‚ and Brian Witte‚ Annapolis‚ Maryland were among the contributors.