Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a decision that will undoubtedly escalate America’s already skyrocketing levels of gun violence — and at the same time, this court has attempted to limit the tools our cities have to fight back.
The court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs. Bruen allows for Americans in all 50 states to publicly carry powerful weapons that were unknown when the Second Amendment was first written with a quill pen.
While not surprising, this decision is a shock. It is an outrage.
It is a ruling that favors the political power of a few over the democratic desire of the many. It is the result of years of planning by gun lobbyists and millions of dollars in dark money flowing from gun companies.
It is not progress, and it is not justice. It is an affront to civil society and an insult to the will of the people, the majority of whom want more limits placed on guns, not fewer.
Releasing this decision as our country continues to reel from the slaughter of schoolchildren in Texas and beloved community members in Buffalo makes a mockery of our nation’s values. It promotes a further severing of the bonds of social trust that have held these United States together for more than 240 years.
The true beneficiaries of this ruling are the gun manufacturers and the many merchants of death who profit from branding violence as freedom.
Gun violence is big business.
More than 19 million guns were sold last year in this country. Publicly traded gun companies have raked in billions of dollars in profit since the pandemic began, much of it due to online marketing that stoked fears of social unrest and apocalyptic conflict.
But this court decision is the real source of danger. It will raise the chances of being a victim of gun violence in this country — no matter where you live, work or worship. It increases the danger for every citizen and the risks for every law enforcement officer. And it pre-emptively limits the power of local and state authorities to protect their own people.
In the 2008 Heller decision — which itself was deeply problematic — Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that “nothing in our opinion limits the government’s ability to enact reasonable regulation of firearms.” With Thursday’s radical ruling, we’re a far cry from those days.
As mayor of New York City and a former police officer, I am tasked with protecting the safety of 8.8 million people, including our Police Department. It is my sworn duty and my moral obligation.
My administration has long been aware of the danger of this ruling, and we are ready to take action. Together with our state and city partners, we will endeavor to do all we can to protect New Yorkers.
Those efforts will include reviewing our application process to ensure that only those who are fully qualified can obtain a carry license.
We will also undertake a comprehensive review of our approach to defining “sensitive places” where carrying a gun is banned. This will allow us to minimize, in a constitutionally permissible manner, the number of locations in which New Yorkers will be forced to factor in the risk of gun violence to themselves or their children.
Everyday citizens cannot be expected to risk mortal danger every time they board a crowded train or enter a packed theater. New Yorkers must be able to go to school, go to work, shop and socialize without fear of becoming another bloody statistic in an already tragic saga of selfishness and greed.
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This is a disturbing moment in our nation’s history. We are already brutalized by daily gun deaths and scenes of violence against children, yet we are asked to give up some of our remaining legal protections.
Our police officers are being asked to fight a war, not keep the peace. And our democracy is being subverted by an activist judiciary.
The past two years have shown us what happens when society breaks down and turns inward. With low levels of social trust and high levels of gun ownership, soon American streets will be empty of everything but fear.
We will not let that happen in our city.
The Supreme Court may have opened an additional river feeding the sea of gun violence, but we will do everything we can to dam it. We will do whatever is in our lawful power, using every available resource, to ensure that New Yorkers are not put in further danger of gun violence.
New York City is synonymous with freedom, and rightfully so. Lady Liberty holds a torch, not a weapon. No matter what obstacles are put in our path, New York City will continue to light the way of liberty, democracy and justice for all.
Adams is mayor of New York.