The US Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Americans have a fundamental right to carry firearms in public in a landmark decision that came just weeks after another deadly school shooting.
The 6-3 ruling strikes down a New York law that required a person to prove they had legitimate self-defence needs to receive a gun permit and will prevent states from restricting people carrying guns.
Despite a growing call for limits on firearms after two mass shootings in May stunned the country, the court sided with advocates who said the US Constitution guarantees the right to own and carry guns.
The ruling is the first by the court in a major Second Amendment case in a decade and a victory for the powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.
Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority opinion, said that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defence outside the home.
The US Senate is currently considering a rare bipartisan bill that includes modest gun control measures.
On May 14, an 18-year-old used an AR-15-type assault rifle to kill 10 African Americans at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
Less than two weeks later 19 children and two teachers were shot and killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, by another teen with the same type of high-powered, semi-automatic rifle.
More than half of US states already allow permitless carry of firearms, most of them only doing so in the past decade.
But more than 20 still maintain restrictions that they could now be forced to abandon based on the court’s ruling.
In the ruling, the court overturned a New York state law dating to 1913 that had stood based on the understanding that individual states had the right to regulate gun usage and ownership.
Over the past two decades, more than 200 million guns have hit the US market, led by assault rifles and personal handguns, feeding a surge in murders, mass shootings and suicides.