What Happens To Mass. Now That Supreme Court Struck Down New York Gun Laws?


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Updated 6/23 2:24 P.M.

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Supreme Court struck down New York state gun laws on Thursday, in a case that appears set to upend gun laws in Massachusetts and several other states.

Currently, gun owners in New York need to prove to local authorities that they have a reason to carry a gun outside the home. In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, Justice Clarence Thomas was joined by the five other conservative justices in ruling that New York's laws were unconstitutional.

WBZ NewsRadio's Madison Rogers talked to two experts that said this case could have a direct and profound impact on Massachusetts gun laws. As it stands, gun licenses are approved through local police chiefs in Massachusetts, and can vary significantly from town to town.

Daniel Breen, a professor of Legal Studies at Brandeis University, says local departments can deny people licenses as well.

Breen said over the weekend that a broad ruling from the Supreme Court — the approach the justices eventually decided on — could "grievously affect" Massachusetts gun laws and make the state go "back to the drawing board."

John Rosenthal, Co-Founder of the Boston-based nonprofit "Stop Handgun Violence" says the Supreme Court ruling was predictable, and that even after the court decision, Massachusetts gun laws will remain unchanged and can fight off any legal challenges.

"Our Massachusetts laws are very different than New York laws around licensing of firearms. In New York you had to show proper cause and that was thrown out. Here in Massachusetts, we have a suitability standard— it's much more of an objective standard," Rosenthal said. Rosenthal goes on to say that the gun laws in Massachusetts are working, as the state has seen one of the lowest rate of gun-related deaths in the country.

In the opinion, the Supreme Court took issue with states allowing local officials arbitrary discretion on whether or not to allow people to carry and use guns. Laws like that are on the books in Massachusetts, California, Hawaii and several other states.

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On the flip side, Jim Wallace, the Executive Director of the Gun Owner's Action League in Massachusetts, says the laws in the state are far too complicated.

"There's actually a retired police chief that publishes a 400-page book on what you need to know as a Massachusetts gun owner, and that's frankly just absurd," he said.

Wallace said over the weekend that he was hoping the Supreme Court reaffirms the right to carry a gun as a civil right.

As of now, what exactly the decision means for the state's gun laws is unclear, but they appear to be headed for serious reform.

WBZ's Madison Rogers (@madisonwbz) has more:

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