Violence Policy Center Denounces U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision to Invalidate New York State’s Concealed Handgun Law

For Release: Thursday, June 23, 2022

VPC Research Shows Concealed Handgun Permit Holders Have Committed at Least 37 Fatal Mass Shootings and Killed at Least 24 Law Enforcement Officers Since 2007

Washington, DC – Today the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York state’s law regulating the issuance of concealed carry permits. The Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Kevin P. Bruen, Superintendent of the New York State Police invalidates a state law enacted in 1911 that allows for the concealed carrying of handguns only with a permit issued for “proper cause.”

Violence Policy Center Government Affairs Director Kristen Rand states, “Today’s ruling can only increase gun violence. Until today, law enforcement officials were able, consistent with state law, to exercise discretion in issuing permits to carry concealed handguns. The ability to deny permits to potentially dangerous applicants is absolutely necessary to help prevent tragedies, including mass shootings and the murder of law enforcement personnel. This ruling undercuts violence prevention efforts and threatens public safety.”

The VPC’s ongoing Concealed Carry Killers project demonstrates that concealed carry permit holders are rarely “good guys with guns.” The online resource tracks examples of non-self-defense killings involving private citizens with permits to carry concealed handguns in public.

Contrary to the false declaration by former National Rifle Association top lobbyist Tanya Metaksa that “[t]hese citizens don’t commit violent crimes,” concealed handgun permit holders have been involved in at least 1,981 fatal, non-self-defense incidents since May 2007, resulting in the deaths of 2,240 people. Since May 2007, the VPC has identified 37 fatal mass shootings by concealed handgun permit holders, resulting in the deaths of 183 victims, as well as 24 law-enforcement officers killed by permit holders.

With the pro bono assistance of law firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, the Violence Policy Center filed an amicus brief in support of the respondents. The VPC’s brief argued that New York’s licensing regime is a legitimate restriction on private citizens’ rights, because concealed firearms in the hands of the general public have an unmatched ability to cause unlawful violence, including injuries and death. The brief also detailed the increasing lethality, as measured by firepower and capacity, of the civilian handgun market as well as the inadequacy of handguns as self-defense tools

The Court’s decision, however, does leave room to impose some regulation on the issuance of concealed carry permits. The Supreme Court recognized, for example, that carrying firearms could be forbidden in “sensitive places” such as schools, legislative assemblies, polling places, and courthouses. And, as Justice Alito stressed in his concurrence, Bruen “decides nothing about who may lawfully possess a firearm or the requirements that must be met to buy a gun. Nor does it decide anything about the kinds of weapons that people may possess.” (Op. 2.) Nonetheless, as Justice Breyer recognized in his dissent, the Supreme Court wholly failed to “consider[] the potentially deadly consequences of its decision.” (Op. 52.)

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The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on Twitter and Facebook.

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is an Am Law 100 firm with more than 600 lawyers representing clients based throughout the United States and around the world. For more information, visit www.dwt.com.

Media Contact:
Sally Martinelli
(202) 822-8200 x104
smartinelli@vpc.org