The owner of a New York shooting range pockets his 9mm semi-automatic handgun on Thursday (Image: AP/Bebeto Matthews)
The owner of a New York shooting range with his 9mm semi-automatic handgun on Thursday (Image: AP/Bebeto Matthews)

On the same day the United States Senate prepares to pass the first bipartisan gun law reforms in nearly three decades, the Supreme Court thumbed its nose at the legislative branch and the American people.

In a 6-3 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc v Bruen announced on Thursday morning, the court’s conservatives struck down the Sullivan Act, a 1911 state law that required New Yorkers to hold permits issued by local police to carry concealed weapons. The law applied not only to handguns, but to any weapon small enough to be secreted on a person, including knives, clubs, brass knuckles and bombs.

The Sullivan Act required applicants to meet statutory criteria, including safety training and a background check, and “demonstrate a special need for self-protection”. Police had discretion in deciding whether applicants satisfied the standards. The law survived multiple legal challenges, and guided gun safety legislation in many states.