On June 23, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (2022) in which the court struck down one component of the Concealed-Carry Weapon (CCW) law, specifically, the proper cause or ‘good cause’ requirement.
The long-established New York law required gun owners to obtain licenses to carry concealed handguns in public for self-defense. Prior to this case, license applicants had to demonstrate “proper cause,” in other words, justifying a special need for the concealed carry license because they face a "special or unique danger to their life." This is no longer the case.
The above ruling will have major implications for how states regulate firearms across the country in terms of access, ownership, and usage. This decision could potentially lead other states with similar laws to follow suit by striking down similar restrictions on obtaining CCW permits or even introducing new legislation that further loosens gun laws across America.
A concealed carry permit is a state-issued license that allows an individual to legally carry a firearm on their person without it being visible to other people. It is important to note that all states have different laws regarding who can obtain a CCW permit and how they can use it. Some states allow individuals with no criminal record or mental health issues to apply for permits while others, like California, require more stringent criteria such as background checks and safety courses before they are issued.
California, a half-dozen other states and the District of Columbia require special concealed-carry licenses from local law enforcement agencies, with evidence of a ‘special need’ for self-defense. In California, as in New York, those licenses are generally available in rural areas but are rarely granted in metropolitan areas. Californians will still need to pass a background check (called a Dealer’s Record of Sale, or DROS), demonstrate firearms proficiency and safety and show proof of employment or residence in a county issuing the permit. In California, a person must be at least 21 years old to buy a handgun, and at least 18 years old to buy a shotgun or rifle. And some people may never possess firearms, such as convicted felons and narcotics addicts.
The Supreme Court’s decision has been met with mixed reactions from gun rights advocates and those opposed to guns on the streets. On one hand, many argue that the proper cause requirement was too restrictive and unfairly kept innocent individuals from obtaining a CCW permit when they had an urgent need for self-protection; on the other hand, some worry that eliminating this requirement could lead to more guns on the streets and greater risk of violence.