Media contacts: Emily Gowdey-Backus, 978-934-3369, Emily_GowdeyBackus@uml.edu and Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday that expands the right to carry a gun in public means the panel’s majority believes the right to bear arms is “fundamental” under the Constitution and should not be subject to a different standard, according to a UMass Lowell expert available for interviews.
The 6-3 decision strikes down a New York law that held individuals seeking a license to carry a handgun outside the home need to show proper cause, or a special need, to do so. Other states, including Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and Rhode Island, have similar laws on the books, according to briefs filed in the case.
The court held the New York law violates individuals’ rights protected under the Constitution’s Second and 14th amendments, and that the right to “keep and bear arms” includes a right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense, without demonstrating such cause. The ruling comes as the U.S. Senate – in a bipartisan effort – works to pass gun control legislation, spurred to do so after recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., among other communities.
“Justice Thomas has made it clear that the new majority sees gun rights as the same as all other fundamental rights. Their inherently dangerous nature does not mean that they can be treated differently. This is a major shift from the earlier view that believes gun rights must be balanced against the risks they pose,” said Morgan Marietta, a constitutional scholar and authority on the high court. “Today’s ruling reflects a much bigger shift in how the Court reads the Constitution, from a living to an original document. The new majority sees the Constitution and Bill of Rights in a more uncompromising light that will alter American law in the coming years far beyond guns – to abortion, religion, criminal justice, and regulation of the environment.”
Marietta is available to discuss:
- How the ruling in this case spotlights the thinking of the conservative judges now in the majority;
- The dissenting opinion in this case;
- Other recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that affect personal liberties.
Marietta, an associate professor and the interim chair of UMass Lowell’s Political Science Department, is the editor of an annual volume on the major decisions of the Supreme Court and is the author of several books on American politics, most recently, “One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy,” from Oxford University Press. Along with constitutional law, Marietta’s research focuses on American politics and political psychology.
To arrange an interview with him via phone, email or Zoom (or another platform), contact Emily Gowdey-Backus at Emily_GowdeyBackus@uml.edu or Nancy Cicco at Nancy_Cicco@uml.edu.