I just read all 135 pages of the Supreme Court’s opinion on the New York case, and have highlighted some of the text from it.
What follows are several pieces of text that I think are important and highlight how they came to their decision, as well as implicating our rights as American Citizens. Each of the following paragraphs and sentences are pulled directly from the text, linked to below.
At times I add emphasis in the form of bolding the text to be darker and stand out more. Any emphasis in italics is the Court’s.
This is a win for gun rights.
This is interesting stuff, and important to know.
From here on out, until the conclusion, is the text of the SCOTUS:
Fortunately, the Founders created a Constitution—and a Second Amendment— “intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs.” McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 415 (1819) (emphasis deleted). Although its meaning is fixed according to the understandings of those who ratified it, the Constitution can, and must, apply to circumstances beyond those the Founders specifically anticipated.
Its reference to “arms” does not apply “only [to] those arms in existence in the 18th century.” 554 U. S., at 582. “Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.” Ibid. (citations omitted).
Thus, even though the Second Amendment’s definition of “arms” is fixed according to its historical understanding, that general definition covers modern instruments that facilitate armed self-defense. Cf. Caetano v. Massachusetts, 577 U. S. 411, 411–412 (2016) (per curiam) (stun guns).
We therefore turn to whether the plain text of the Second Amendment protects Koch’s and Nash’s proposed course of conduct—carrying handguns publicly for self-defense.
We have little difficulty concluding that it does. Respondents do not dispute this. See Brief for Respondents 19. Nor could they. Nothing in the Second Amendment’s text draws a home/public distinction with respect to the right to keep and bear arms. As we explained in Heller, the “textual elements” of the Second Amendment’s operative clause— “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”—“guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” 554 U. S., at 592. Heller further confirmed that the right to “bear arms” refers to the right to “wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being
armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.”
This definition of “bear” naturally encompasses public carry. Most gun owners do not wear a holstered pistol at their hip in their bedroom or while sitting at the dinner table. Although individuals often “keep” firearms in their home, at the ready for self-defense, most do not “bear” (i.e., carry) them in the home beyond moments of actual confrontation. To confine the right to “bear” arms to the home would nullify half of the Second Amendment’s operative protections.
Moreover, confining the right to “bear” arms to the home would make little sense given that self-defense is “the central component of the [Second Amendment] right itself.” After all, the Second Amendment guarantees an “individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” Heller, 554 U. S., at 592, and confrontation can surely take place outside the home.
Although we remarked in Heller that the need for armed self-defense is perhaps “most acute” in the home, id., at 628, we did not suggest that the need was insignificant elsewhere. Many Americans hazard greater danger outside the home than in it.
A final word on historical method: Strictly speaking, New York is bound to respect the right to keep and bear arms because of the Fourteenth Amendment, not the Second.
(“When the people adopted the Fourteenth Amendment into existence, they readopted the original Bill of Rights, and did so in a manner that invested those original 1791 texts with new 1868 meanings”). We need not address this issue today because, as we explain below, the public understanding of the right to keep and bear arms in both 1791 and 1868 was, for all relevant purposes, the same with respect to public carry.
Throughout modern Anglo-American history, the right to keep and bear arms in public has traditionally been subject to well-defined restrictions governing the intent for which one could carry arms, the manner
of carry, or the exceptional circumstances under which one could not carry arms. But apart from a handful of late19th-century jurisdictions, the historical record compiled by respondents does not demonstrate a tradition of broadly prohibiting the public carry of commonly used firearms for self-defense. Nor is there any such historical tradition limiting public carry only to those law-abiding citizens who demonstrate a special need for self-defense.
Under Heller’s text-and-history standard, the proper-cause requirement is therefore unconstitutional.
The Second Amendment guaranteed to “all Americans” the right to bear commonly used arms in public subject to certain reasonable, well-defined restrictions. Heller, 554 U. S., at 581. Those restrictions, for example, limited the intent for which one could carry arms, the manner by which one carried arms, or the exceptional circumstances under which one could not carry arms, such as before justices of the peace and other government officials. Apart from a few late-19thcentury outlier jurisdictions, American governments simply have not broadly prohibited the public carry of commonly used firearms for personal defense. Nor, subject to a few late-in-time outliers, have American governments required law-abiding, responsible citizens to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community” in order to carry arms in public.
The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 780 (plurality opinion). We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment
works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.
New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
You can read the text in its entirety on the SCOTUS website. It’s a very long read, 135 pages, but well worth understanding how they came up with their decision.