…it’s unwise to rely on the honesty or candor of the political class.
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a restrictive New York gun law in a major ruling for gun rights.
The justices’ 6-3 decision is expected to ultimately allow more people to legally carry guns on the streets of the nation’s largest cities – including New York, Los Angeles and Boston – and elsewhere. About a quarter of the U.S. population lives in states expected to be affected by the ruling, the high court’s first major gun decision in more than a decade.
The ruling comes as Congress is actively working on gun legislation following recent mass shootings in Texas, New York and California.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the majority that the Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”
Just in case you haven’t seen any in a while, this is good news. What it isn’t is a guarantee that states hostile to the right to keep and bear arms will honor the decision, and the right it protects, in practical terms. Administrative processes can be made so painful and expensive that they deter effectively everyone from exercising their rights.
For example, for some time now, the state has gotten away with a protracted waiting period before an applicant for a carry permit is notified of its decision. Here on Long Island, it’s averaged about a year. There’s no reason that period could not be made longer, effectively vitiating the right by administrative means.
Alternately, the state could impose a huge fee for the permit. That’s been the case in New York City for some time – and there’s no reason that fee could not be escalated to the skies. The rationale would be the “costs” of maintaining the permits and the bureaucracy that records and tracks them.
Finally, we can rest assured that anti-gun states and locales will impose fresh terms on the issuance of gun permits. Those terms could easily be made vague enough to support arbitrary denials. “Good moral character” — ? “No history of mental illness” — ? Meaning what? How long and expensive a court fight would most permit-seekers be willing to undergo in pursuit of their right?
So yes: good news. But the Omnipotent State is clever and elusive. It seldom accepts a setback passively. Watch New York’s next moves in this regard. I certainly will.