The statement Monday drew angst from New York City’s mayor and gun-control advocates in eight states with large cities that would be most influenced by a court judgment expanding right-to-carry laws after a yearlong spike in urban violence.
In New York City, 328 shootings by April 18 outpaced last year’s level by 64% notwithstanding tens of millions of dollars spent on police training and community-based anti-violence teams. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who blames the increase on a pandemic-related breakdown in social cohesion, stated that “my heart sank” when he learned about the Supreme Court’s review.
“We’ve come so far to try to keep guns out of the hands of New Yorkers, particularly young people, and the Supreme Court, it looks like they’re working overtime to put guns right back in those hands,” de Blasio announced Monday. “That really worries me.”
Apart from national increases in gang-related shootings in cities, the U.S. has undergone four mass killings since March 16, including at a supermarket in Colorado and day spas in the Atlanta area. The deaths have driven renewed calls for federal gun control.
Almost a decade after the highest court declared its last major gun-rights ruling, it voted on Monday to consider a challenge to laws prohibiting most people from carrying handguns in public. The court announced it would take up the case throughout the nine-month term that starts in October. The appeal is supported by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, a National Rifle Association affiliate, and two individuals who say the state has broken their rights by issuing concealed-carry licenses only to those presenting a special need.
New York is one of eight states - along with California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware and Hawaii - that the National Rifle Association says stops most people from receiving a carry license. Illinois and the District of Columbia likewise had sharp limitations before their laws were invalidated in court.
“We already have a concerted focus on reducing shootings in New York City; adding more guns to our streets is not the answer to reducing violence,” remarked New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea in an email. “The NYPD should continue to be able to set and regulate the conditions that must be met to legally carry a loaded firearm in our streets.”
Massachusetts has some of the country’s most stringent gun-control laws. It is one of three so-called “license to own” states, where a person must hold a valid license to lawfully own a gun, and first-time applicants must take a safety course. Police chiefs serve as licensing authorities, giving them wide discretion over who can own a gun.