When Is a Constitutional Right Not a Right?


    If you want to carry a firearm in New York state, you need to convince a local official that you have “proper cause.” That’s easy in some counties but almost impossible in others, including New York City. On Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen about whether this policy is unconstitutional.

    New York is one of only six states (the others are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey) that condition the right to bear arms on an official’s discretion, which is not required to exercise any other constitutional right. Forty-four states provide for permits to carry guns without a subjective assessment of whether a person “needs” to do so, and 21 of those states don’t require a permit to carry in state, though many people get them anyway so they can carry in other states with which theirs has reciprocity.


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