Brooklyn reacts to Supreme Court’s gun ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court.
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

A majority of Brooklyn’s elected officials and advocacy groups are expressing shock and horror after the US Supreme Court’s decision to nullify New York’s strict laws regarding concealed carry of firearms.

In New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, the court’s 6-3 right wing majority on Thursday struck down New York’s rigorous requirements for obtaining concealed carry licenses, which only allows permits for those demonstrating “proper cause,” such as fear for their lives, to carry a firearm.

Governor Kathy Hochul quickly called the decision “shocking,” and said that she and legislative leaders are planning to call lawmakers back to Albany for a special session where they intend to pass laws mitigating the decision’s impact.

“This could place millions of New Yorkers in harm’s way,” said Hochul. “This decision, isn’t just reckless, it’s reprehensible. It’s not what New Yorkers want. We should have the right of determination of what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state.”

Mayor Eric Adams, meanwhile, said the ruling will only put New Yorker’s at further risk for gun violence.

“While we’re still analyzing the decisions, we can say with certainty this decision has made every single one of us less safe from gun violence,” Hizzoner said at a Thursday press conference at City Hall. “The decision ignores the shocking crisis of gun violence every day engulfing not only New York but engulfing our entire country. It ignores the present and it endangers our future.”

Adams also shared that his office, which has been preparing for this decision, plan to work with federal, state and local partners to maintain the safety of Brooklyn residents. Those safety measures include a comprehensive review of which areas will be defined as “sensitive locations” where carrying a firearm will be banned, and ensuring that only those qualified can obtain a carry license, according to his office.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court’s conservative majority that the Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”

The decision, which will likely have far-reaching implications nationwide, comes just weeks after a white supremacist armed with an AR-15 opened fire on Black customers at a Buffalo supermarket, killing 10. The court is further expected to strike down the constitutional right to an abortion in the coming days.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who released a summer anti-gun violence plan this week, called the decision a “nightmare for public safety.”

“New York’s strong gun laws have saved lives for more than a century, and the Supreme Court’s decision to open the door for millions of New Yorkers to carry a concealed weapon is a nightmare for public safety,” Gonzalez said. “Evidence is overwhelming that states with permissive gun laws see much higher rates of gun deaths – from accidents to suicide, domestic incidents to street crime. It is critical that we meet this setback with every tool at our disposal.”

Williamsburg and Bushwick State Senator Julia Salazar, who chairs the Senate’s Crime Victims, Crime, and Correction Committee, called the ruling “shameful.”

In a moment when our state is mourning the horrific massacre in Buffalo and gun violence in our communities, we need to do everything possible to end gun violence, not make handguns even more accessible,” said Salazar.

Rep. Yvette Clarke called the decision “unconscionable, and quite frankly, disrespectful” as the state confronts a serious crisis and uptick in gun violence.

“Sadly, we live in a society governed by individuals tasked to uphold our principles and security, and yet, cast a vote that blatantly disregards the tragic reality of a nation still reeling from back-to-back mass shootings that took the lives of innocent children, teachers, and seniors,” she said in a statement.

But not all are condemning the ruling.

Southern Brooklyn GOP Councilmember Inna Vernikov, the only Republican member of the Council from Brooklyn, argued Thursday that the ruling will make New Yorkers safer.

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision today in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen and upholding the individual right to bear arms and the principle of self-defense at the core of it,” she said. “It is unrealistic to expect law enforcement and safety officers to be able to come to the defense of all people, at all times, and it is un-American to unconstitutionally restrict the right to defend yourself.”

Local anti-violence advocates hope the recent decision will spur officials into action on funding community organizations focused on preventing carnage.

“It’s a real shame and hard to fathom that the Supreme Court ruled to weaken gun restrictions at this moment in history. With this new ruling it’s as important as ever to invest in community-centered solutions,” said Jibreel Jalloh, the Brooklyn Borough Advocate and an anti-violence activist from Canarsie. “We’ll re-double our efforts and continue to pressure Mayor Eric Adams to finally bring a fully funded cure violence site to Canarsie. There’s no more time to waste.”