by Peter HUTCHISON, Diane DESOBEAU and Ana FERNANDEZ
From the streets of New York to the corridors of Congress, Americans expressed both outrage and delight at the Supreme Court’s striking down of a gun law Thursday, reflecting the country’s bitter divide.
The 6-3 court decision throws out a more than century-old New York law that required a person to prove they had a legitimate self-defense need, or “proper cause,” to receive a permit to carry a handgun outside the home.
Several other states, including California, have similar laws and the court’s ruling will curb their ability to restrict people from carrying guns in public.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the decision marked a “dark day,” while Big Apple mayor Eric Adams said it “may have opened an additional river feeding the sea of gun violence.”
“It’s stupid. It’s just stupid,” Sushmita Peters, a 23-year-old emergency room worker, told AFP in Hunter’s Point, in the New York City borough of Queens.
“People look at people in power to feel safe. And that’s not something you feel when they’re making decisions like this.”
Nearby, 38-year-old Laurent Baud said the decision was particularly perplexing coming so soon after deadly mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas.
“It’s a little worrisome that more and more people can carry guns,” he said.
Christy, a 32-year-old security guard in Manhattan who declined to give her surname, said she feared it would bring “high crime to the area.”
“Honestly, people are not that mentally stable out here,” she told AFP.
New York officials lined up to slam the ruling, warning that it would undermine public safety and pledging to introduce legislation to temper its effects.
Hochul, a Democrat, branded it “absolutely shocking” and accused the six judges in the majority of acting “recklessly.”
“We can have restrictions on speech — you can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater but somehow there are no restrictions allowed on the Second Amendment,” she said, referring to the constitutional amendment guaranteeing Americans the right to bear arms.
Adams, who was elected late last year on a platform to make New York City safer, said the ruling “will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence.”
He and Hochul both vowed to review their options.
“We will work together to mitigate the risks this decision will create once it is implemented, as we cannot allow New York to become the Wild West,” said Adams, also a Democrat.
– ‘Legitimacy crisis’ –
The court’s ruling will curb the ability of other states with laws similar to New York’s, such as California, from enforcing them.
“This is a dangerous decision from a court hell bent on pushing a radical ideological agenda and infringing on the rights of states to protect our citizens from being gunned down in our streets, schools, and churches. Shameful,” tweeted California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Fellow Democrats in the federal government echoed those concerns.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was “unfathomable” that justices had “chosen to endanger more American lives.”
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal described the Supreme Court as “out of touch with America” and facing “a legitimacy crisis.”
Republicans praised the decision, with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy tweeting that the ruling “rightfully ensures the right of all law-abiding Americans to defend themselves without unnecessary government interference.”
“The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,” said Markwayne Mullin, citing the text of the Second Amendment.
The Second Amendment Foundation, which campaigns for gun rights, said it was “gratified” by the “long-overdue affirmation that the right to bear arms exists outside the home.”
There was also some support on the streets of New York City, whose nine million residents overwhelmingly lean liberal.
“It’s a good idea. Self-defense, you can save yourself. Somebody knows you have a gun, they will be careful,” 75-year-old Sam, who declined to give his surname, told AFP. — Agence France-Presse