With Congress continuing its debate on gun control as mass shootings across the nation remain on the minds of Americans, the United States Supreme Court today issued a ruling giving a major expansion to gun rights and a victory for the 2nd Amendment.  The High Court ruled that Americans have the right to carry firearms in public for the purpose of self-defense.

The ruling, which was a 6-3 split with conservative justices voting in the majority and liberals dissenting, will likely result in legal and responsible gun owners carrying more weapons in urban areas of the country.  The decision struck down a New York State law which required people to demonstrate a specific need for carrying a weapon in public in order to get a gun license.  The majority of justices said that requirement violates the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”

Upon learning of the Supreme Court’s decision, amid a deeply divided nation, President Joe Biden said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed” by the Court’s ruling.  Biden stated it “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.”

The President urged states to pass new laws, adding, “I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Lives are on the line.”

New Jersey, plus California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have laws similar to New York’s.

In writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas stated that the United States Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”  Thomas wrote that right is not a “second-class right. We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”

“This is another landmark win for constitutional freedom and the NRA,” says Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA. “The decision comes at an important time – as the Senate considers legislation that undermines Second Amendment freedom. This decision unequivocally validates the position of the NRA and should put lawmakers on notice: no law should be passed that impinges this individual freedom. It also confronts a troubling problem with the Senate legislation – underscoring that these freedoms should not be left to “unguided” discretion of state and federal officials. Second Amendment freedoms belong to the people.”

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, predictably, took the opposite approach, tweeting, “Today’s sweeping SCOTUS decision striking down a century-old New York gun permitting law is not only wrong, but wildly out of step with the American public. It will undoubtedly undermine public safety and make our communities less safe.  It also directly threatens New Jersey’s gun permitting law that helps protect the people of my state from gun violence and burdens future state efforts to do the same.”

In the 8th Congressional District here in New Jersey, Democratic nominee Rob Menendez, Jr. also blasted the Supreme Court’s ruling, stating, “Today’s Supreme Court ruling in NYSRPA v. Bruen is an unprecedented, irresponsible, and dangerous decision by the extremist, far-right majority on the Court. Just as states like ours struggle to get guns off of our streets, the Court has opened the floodgates to allow more violence, more death, and more injuries in our cities and towns.

“The idea, that in the most densely populated state in America, anyone- with absolutely no common sense limits- would be allowed to carry a concealed gun is stunningly irresponsible.

This decision will do nothing to stop the mass shootings that occur more and more frequently across our country, but will make residents of districts like ours feel unsafe in their own neighborhoods. We must fight to keep and expand our Democratic majority in the Senate, and push through judicial appointments that will protect our children, our families, our neighbors, and our friends.”

The fight continues with a nation divided.