CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

After NY law is struck down, two Utah experts sound off on gun rights

Jun 23, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:20 am

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FILE: The department can only offer up certain guns for sale. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The US Supreme Court struck down Thursday a New York gun law enacted more than a century ago placing restrictions on carrying a concealed handgun outside the home. Utah advocates on opposite ends of the gun debate weigh in on the court’s ruling over gun rights. 

“Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court’s 6-3 majority as reported by CNN.

California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have laws similar to New York’s. Those laws are expected to be quickly challenged, according to US News.

In 2021, Utah eliminated its permit requirement for concealed carry. Today, anyone 21 and older who can lawfully possess a firearm is free to carry a loaded, hidden firearm in public, according to Giffords Law Center.

Pro-gun rights viewpoint of Supreme Court ruling

Mitch Vilos, attorney and Utah gun expert, and later, Nancy Farrer Halden, board member of the Utah Gun Violence Prevention Center, joined KSL NewsRadio guest hosts Maura Carabello and Taylor Morgan to discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday.

Utah is a “shall issue” state, meaning that the Utah Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Identification (“BCI”) must issue a concealed firearms permit if the applicant is 21 years of age or older, within certain provisions outlined here.

Vilos said his interpretation of the recent Supreme Court’s ruling is that any law — such as the New York law — that is more restrictive than the “shall issue” statute is unconstitutional.

“I think it’s going to have a wave across the country, and a lot of the states — like New York, California, some of the more liberal states. Their constitutional carry policies will be struck down,” Vilos said.

“Are you at all concerned about the precedent it sets by having the federal court say, ‘Yes, there’ll be one legal standard for the entire nation,’ which essentially diminishes the ability of individual states to choose their own standard?'” Carabello asked.

“Well, it’s, it’s called the Second Amendment,” Vilos said.

“That’s not true. I mean, there are gun-law differentiations state by state . . . so this would be a significant national ruling that does essentially limit states from making their own rulings,” she replied.

Gun-control viewpoint of Supreme Court ruling

“Can you walk us through your understanding of this ruling and your reaction to it?” Morgan asked Nancy Farrer Halden, of the Utah Gun Violence Prevention Center.

“Recently, they [New York state] have enacted a lot of gun laws in that state, and it has gotten their gun crime under control. So, I would argue that in New York, this has done a good thing,” she said.

Halden said the New York law, before being struck down by the Supreme Court, allowed firearms inside the home, which, she said, was the original interpretation of the Second Amendment, but was expanded by the Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller.

“The gun law in New York says that you have to have a license to carry a gun. And that you have to show proper cause for carrying that gun outside the home,” she said. “Now, you can have a gun in your home to protect your home. And that is the original interpretation of the Second Amendment that guns were allowed in the home. The Supreme Court in the Heller decision expanded that somewhat, and with this decision [Supreme Court ruling on 06/23/2022] it’s been expanded even more.”

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After NY law is struck down, two Utah experts sound off on gun rights