Supreme Court strikes down New York’s Reasonable Concealed Carry Act

What are the news: A New York law limiting the concealed carry of firearms in public to those who have demonstrated a valid reason to do so – such as documented threats of physical violence against them – has been struck down by the US Supreme Court in a 6–3 decision (PDF).

The AMA noted its deep disappointment with the Court’s “prejudicial and disturbing decision” to rule against the law, which it described as an “appropriate and constitutional response to the scourge of gun violence” in the New York communities.

“Gun violence is a public health crisis, and easier access to guns and fewer restrictions on who can carry them – and where they can be carried – are dangerous steps in the wrong direction,” said WADA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD. “Undoing decades of reasonable gun regulation will cost more lives.”

The Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies, the Medical Society of the State of New York, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry had filed an amicus brief (PDF) urging the Supreme Court upholding a lower court ruling and arguing that the law’s requirements do not violate the Second Amendment.

The brief notes that more than 8,800 New Yorkers died from gunshot wounds between 2010 and 2019, and that gun violence “is a serious public health crisis that must be addressed through measures such as New York’s Concealed Carry Law”.

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In deciding the case—New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. et al. c. Brün (PDF) – The Court’s majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, said the law violated petitioners’ Second Amendment rights and, in doing so, violated their rights under the 14th Amendment, which protects against States that pass laws that deny equal protection and “abbreviate the privileges” of US citizens.

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey have similar “just cause” standards to New York and all have been upheld in court of appeals, although a similar standard in the District of Columbia has been permanently imposed since 2017.

Why it matters: The amicus brief from the AMA and others argued that New York has the right “to enforce its reasonable licensing requirements for persons who wish to carry concealed handguns in public spaces, including including our streets, highways, stores, malls, cinemas, Little League games, hospitals, subways, concert halls, football stadiums, outdoor festivals, bars, restaurants, basketball courts , parks, political rallies, places of worship and other crowded places filled with children and adults.

In addition to legal arguments, the brief featured stories from 14 doctors who treat gunshot victims and who witnessed how easy access to firearms contributes to a high number of suicide attempts.

“The gun violence plaguing America is a public health crisis that amici members face every day,” the brief states. “They witness the reality, the brutal effects on our bodies, the death, grief, suffering and lifelong physical, psychological, social and economic consequences that follow survivors who can never be cured.”

Dr. Resneck echoed this point.

“As leaders in medicine, our unique perspective on gun violence as a serious public health crisis is informed by scientific research and the clinical experiences of physicians,” Dr. Resneck said. “In emergency departments across the country, doctors witness first-hand the catastrophic fallout from gun violence as they treat victims with devastating and life-threatening preventable injuries.”

The file includes the story of Joseph Sakran, MD, director of emergency general surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who was shot in the throat at age 17.

Dr. Sakran’s story was highlighted in “Common Sense Gun Laws Can Help End Gun Violence”, a Leadership Views column authored by the outgoing President of the AMA, Gerald E. Harmon, MD.

“It makes no sense to Dr. Sakran, and it makes no sense to me, to reject proper and legal concealed carry laws like the one in New York today,” Dr. Harmon wrote. last fall. “We will never end the scourge of gun violence by allowing more people to carry more guns in more places.”

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Learn more: At the 2022 AMA Annual Meeting held this month in Chicago, Dr. Harmon said “enough is enough” regarding runaway gun violence.

The AMA House of Delegates responded and passed new policies to support the regulation of homemade weapons known as “ghost guns,” seek out warning labels on ammunition packaging, and consider health mentality of schoolchildren when they engage in active shooting exercises.

Dr. Harmon also expressed WADA’s support for the bipartisan plan to address gun violence currently before Congress.

Delegates first declared gun violence a public health crisis at their 2016 annual meeting, held after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were killed. been killed.

Dr Resneck promised that WADA’s advocacy will continue.

“While we are discouraged that the High Court did not recognize New York’s concealed carry measure as a legal and necessary response to combating gun violence, the AMA will remain a strong advocate for the regulations. firearms as an essential part of effective public security policy,” he said.

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