Law Enforcement Officials: Supreme Court Gun Ruling Will Make Our Job More Difficult

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In the broadest expansion of gun rights in a decade, the court’s ruling on Thursday changed the framework that lower courts across the country will use to analyze other gun restrictions. The case was sent back to the lower court and the law is still in effect until it goes through the lower court process.

The court’s decision in the case, brought by an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, allows more guns to be carried publicly in the nation’s largest city and could overturn laws nationwide, including those in Massachusetts. and California. Previously, New York State law required individuals to show a “good cause” before obtaining the license.

“Because New York State only issues public transportation licenses when an applicant demonstrates a particular need for self-defense, we conclude that the state’s licensing regime violates the Constitution,” Judge Clarence wrote. Thomas for the 6-3 majority of the court.

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said “nothing changes” after the decision, adding that “if you carry a gun illegally in New York, you will be arrested.”

“When we open up the universe of transportation permits, it potentially brings more firearms into New York City…it should affect all of us,” Sewell said Thursday.

But the High Court’s decision was “a game-changer” for the everyday police officer in the country, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain, said during an appearance on MSNBC.

“When you look at how do you distinguish between wearing it legally and someone wearing it illegally, it’s really, really difficult,” Adams said. “And then respond to the bad days that individuals are having in the city, in major cities across America, but they’re armed with a gun. You can see a simple argument elevate to a shooting. Court put in square.”

Similarly, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said the court’s decision “seriously compromises public safety not just in New York, but across the country,” adding that his office is analyzing the ruling and developing legislation. on firearms safety that will take action to “mitigate the damage”. done today.”

Decision comes as police push for gun control

Controversial ‘constitutional carry’, or carry without a license, legislation has gained momentum during this year’s legislative sessions in several states, despite law enforcement officials arguing that the requirement to a permit is essential to comply with public safety standards. Without it, they say, officers face an even greater challenge in addressing gun violence, making their encounters with citizens even more difficult.

Major national police groups have joined forces to push for legislation in Congress calling for a crackdown on gun crime. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) have actively supported firearms legislation efforts to address gun violence and “identify viable solutions to significantly reduce the number of Americans killed by unprovoked and unspeakable violence,” according to a joint letter released in late May.

An amicus brief filed in September 2021 by law enforcement in several cities – including Boston, Los Angeles Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. – stressed that the court should abide by New York law, arguing that they were considering the “prospect of removing local discretion to disguise licensing regimes with concern.”

“There is no credible data to suggest that increasing the number of people carrying concealed firearms will improve public safety, especially in our major cities,” the brief states.

A study released in January by Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading nonprofit focused on gun violence prevention, found that there is a direct correlation in states with more gun laws. lower and higher rates of firearm deaths, including homicides, suicides and accidental murders.

States with weaker gun laws have higher rates of gun-related homicides and suicides, study finds

Twenty-five states generally allow people to carry concealed weapons in most public spaces without any permits, background checks or safety training, according to Everytown.

The study found that states weakening their licensing systems experienced an 11% increase in handgun homicide rates and a 13% to 15% increase in overall violent crime rates.

In a statement to CNN, John Feinblatt, president of Everytown, said: “Law enforcement officers have told us time and time again that allowing more guns in public places will make their jobs harder. and more dangerous, but that’s exactly what this decision does.”

Chiefs worry about more guns on the streets

According to Michael Harrison, Police Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department and Chairman of the Board of the Police Executive Research Forum.

Officers are trained to identify characteristics of people armed with concealed weapons, Harrison said, and people who carry in public with a permit are law-abiding citizens. But the concern is that if more people carry guns, offenders will be more emboldened to carry and use guns illegally, making it even harder for police to identify them, Harrison added.

“With the kind of violent crime we see here in Baltimore, the number of homicides and shootings, we see people’s willingness to use these guns only because they have made a conscious decision to carry them illegally. This decision now exponentially exacerbates this problem,” he said. said.

Murder by police

Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore told CNN the decision puts law enforcement in a “nightmarish situation” and has the potential to have a “devastating impact” in California, which has the strictest gun laws in the country, according to Everytown.

“California state laws conflict with the Supreme Court’s decision, so we can expect litigation as a state,” Moore said, adding that state law requires any person who carries a concealed weapon in public obtains a permit.

Moore’s agency recovered more handguns in 2021 than it has in more than a decade, Moore said, noting that more than two in 10 of those guns were privately made, with no serial number and not found.

Laws such as carrying without a license also complicate law enforcement’s response to active shootings, Lincoln, Nebraska, police chief Teresa Ewins previously told CNN.

Officers responding to an active shooter scenario are forced to make split-second decisions to stop the looming threat to public safety, but a bystander at the scene carrying a weapon only complicates the encounter, Ewins said. .

“If anyone feels entitled to enter a business or a coliseum or an arena [while concealed carrying], then there will be an argument,” Ewins said. “Then the police will have to react and try to defuse it. It’s just another layer of difficulty for them because it’s hard to figure out who has a gun, who doesn’t and then have people who aren’t trained.”

Charles Ramsey, a CNN law enforcement analyst and former commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, said the decision would also put officers at risk in hopes that there will be “more people with guns than ever.” previously”.

“If people don’t have to show justification as to why they should be carrying a concealed firearm, that means you’re going to end up with even more people who really have no valid reason and shouldn’t. not carry a concealed weapon.”

Common incidents such as road rage or street disputes are likely to escalate into gunfire if more people are armed, Ramsey said.

“That’s where we start to see people who aren’t really criminals but because they’re armed and have no training, there’s no requirement that they understand the law in terms of when it’s appropriate and when you can legally use lethal force,” he said. “And how can we not expect bad things to happen?”

Tierney Sneed, Vogue’s Ariane and CNN’s Whitney Wild contributed to this report.

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