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Supreme Court Issues Ruling in Gun Rights Case; Supreme Court Strikes Down New York Concealed Gun Law. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 23, 2022 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. Breaking news out of the Supreme Court, they have issued their ruling in a case called New York versus Bruen. This is the most significant Second Amendment case that the high court has taken up and decided on in more than a decade.

Let's bring in our Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, look, we just got this decision. We're going to let Jessica bring to us, the decision from the court. But give people the background here. How big is it to have a decision either way on this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, in 2008, the Supreme Court held for the first time that individuals have a Second Amendment right to possess a firearm in their home, a hand gun in their home.

The question which the court has not addressed since then, which is now a long time ago, is how extensive is the Second Amendment right to possess weapons. And the issue in this case is about a New York law that says you have to give the government, a reason that the government buys in order to carry a gun on your person outside of your home.

And the reason this case is so important is that guns are regulated in many states in many ways. You know, there are rules about concealed carry. There are rules about open carry of weapons. And the question, which the court has not resolved in the previous 14 years, is how extensive is the Second Amendment right, how -- do you know, do you have a right to carry a gun anytime, anywhere, what is the government's right to restrict that, to limit that. May the government issue -- may have tests, may they require you to go through a background check to buy a weapon.

Those are issues which we have not resolved. Today's decision will go a long way towards defining how extensive the Second Amendment right is.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: This particular law governs licenses to carry concealed handguns in public. Jessica Schneider now has the results of the opinion. Jessica, what do we know?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: So, the Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision here, striking down this New York gun law. This is an opinion that was written by Justin Clarence Thomas and this says that that particular requirement about getting a license to carry and handgun, a concealed handgun in public, that it violates the 14th Amendment.

So, I know Jeffrey was going over this, this is a New York gun law that has actually been on the books for more than a century. And it requires anybody who is applying for a license to carry a handgun in public to essentially petition to get that license.

This challenge was brought by two men in Upstate New York who were denied the ability to get this license because they were unable to show this proper cause. And what the proper cause required is that they had to have a special need for carrying the concealed weapons and they had to face a special or unique danger to their life.

So, the court here in this opinion saying that that law just goes too far, it violates the 14th Amendment, that particular proper cause clause.

And we're still reading through the opinion now, but the conservative majority here, guys, is really going back to this idea that Second Amendment has really become a second class right.


This is something that we've heard Justice Thomas say in opinions, we've heard him say it this public, Justice Alito as well, saying that they believe that the Second Amendment has become a second class right. And now in this particular opinion, they are striking down this New York gun law.

We're reading through the opinion to see if they are going any further as it pertains to the Second Amendment, but this is big. This is going to strike down this law in New York. There are about five other states who have similar laws, so those likely will no longer be able to be in effect.

And then, of course, this is a nation right now grappling with gun violence, several mass shootings in the last few months. And the concern from the attorney general in New York at oral arguments here was that this law applied to the whole of New York State, including not only the rural parts of New York State but also New York City. And the concern that if this law is struck down, which it today, that people would have an easier time carrying concealed handguns in very populated places like Times Square.

So, the fallout still remains to be seen. We've seen Governor Hochul say that if the Supreme Court acts like it has today, that she and the legislature will more to try to enact other law. But for now, this New York gun law struck down, we'll read through the rest of the opinion to see how much broader it might be, guys.

SCIUTTO: Yes. The New York mayor, Eric Adams, just days ago, said the effect -- the negative effect, he believed, this will have on policing crime in New York. Jeffrey Toobin, this is a law that stood for more than a century, passed Supreme Court muster for more than a century. What does this mean for other gun safety laws around the country whether they relate to concealed weapons or other restrictions on guns?

TOOBIN: One useful way of thinking about the way the court is approaching the Second Amendment is to think about the First Amendment. You know, we know that in the United States you have the right under the First Amendment to say pretty much anything anywhere because we have freedom of speech in the United States.

What the conservatives on the Supreme Court are saying is we want the Second Amendment to be a first class right like the First Amendment. And we want to be able to carry guns anywhere, anytime without any sort of regulation by the government, without background checks, without restrictions on where you can take a weapon, without restrictions on how you can carry a weapon.

Now, they haven't gone that far yet but they are clearly moving in that direction. And, you know, we can't separate this issue from what is going on in the world where, you know, we have a tremendous problem with gun violence in this country, we have mass shootings, we have 18- year-olds with access to AR-15s, and the Supreme Court is moving in the direction of saying the government cannot regulate that traffic at all.

SCIUTTO: It's huge.

HARLOW: Let's bring in also our CNN Legal Analyst and Supreme Court Biographer Joan Biskupic, I think, is coming in. Jennifer Rodgers is also here. We have Jason Carroll.

Jennifer Rodgers, to you. What we don't know yet because we're reading through the opinion, but it is really critical, is there a carve-out? I mean, Heller in 2008 told us the Second Amendment is not unlimited and there are constraints. And the big part of the oral argument was, you know, sensitive places, like the subway, and that is going to be a big part of this decision.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. And, Poppy, these issues, law enforcement issues, public safety issue, have usually been left to the states and local governments because they are the ones who know what the dangers are and what the citizens need to be protected. So, we definitely need to wait for that.

I mean, Justice Thomas' language apparently, as the state will have to show that gun regulation is consistent with the nation's historical tradition of firearms regulation. So, the question becomes, as you look back at that, has that been traditional that states and localities can regulate in areas like that, whether particular public safety dangers that a rise in the subway, in stadiums, at public events, that sort of thing. So, that is what certainly the government in New York State and these other states are going to be looking to see whether they can do that.

HARLOW: Okay. Thank you.

Joan Biskupic, I know that you're poring through this, we are too right here. But do we know bigger picture if this court, after striking down the New York law, changed the framework of how this court assesses the Second Amendment right? Because if they change the framework significantly, that means a host of gun laws on the books now could all be re-litigated.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST AND SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: It is bigger, Poppy, and I'll tell you why. It is the difference between having Clarence Thomas write this opinion and Anthony Scalia write it when Anthony Kennedy was still on the court.

Everything is different now because we have the six-justice supermajority. It is so different because the ruling back in 2008 involved only handguns in the home for self-defense.


This is the first time the Supreme Court has extended that ruling outside to the straights for concealed weapons being carried and it also just broadens the possibility for challenges to other gun laws nationwide. So, yes, this is much bigger.

SCIUTTO: Jeffrey Toobin, does this render moot the difficult negotiations we've been covering on the Hill for years to pass simple gun safety regulations, like the one quite modest that has just gotten through on Capitol Hill or is about to get through, we believe?

TOOBIN: The one thing it guarantees is that any sort of gun regulation, including what was just agreed to by the senators, will be challenged in court. I mean, there is no question about that. This expands the Second Amendment right. What we don't know is if it completely eliminates the possibility for any sort of gun regulation.

Again, I am just working my way through the opinion. It is possible that red flag laws may still be intact after this. But any sort of regulation that tells people what kind of gun you can carry and where you can carry it as long as you say you are doing it for self-defense, it is very hard for me to imagine how any of those could be upheld anymore.

BISKUPIC: You know what, a key point over here, Justice Scalia, to keep his five-justice majority back in 2008, included language about sensitive places where government could still regulate guns. And there is a lot of tension during oral arguments about that. If suddenly Justice Thomas is saying not just schools but maybe subways, other places that now could be, you know, up for grabs in different ways. So, once we see the rationale, we're going to know how far it can really go.

SCIUTTO: It's remarkable, right, because it also raises another issue we should be speak about later, which is that differences among states. You know, do blue states pass more restrictive laws but can they now under this -- even if state legislatures decide that that is where they want to go? Joan, Jeffrey, please stay here, we've got a lot more to discuss certainly. Poppy?

HARLOW: We're going to read through this opinion and give you that broadest context and the big picture implication right after this.



SCIUTTO: We are staying on our breaking news, a major Supreme Court decision with implications for all of us. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution protects the right to carry a gun outside the home, 6-3 split there, the six conservative justices for the three liberal justices against.

CNN National Correspondent Jason Carroll, CNN Senior Political Analyst, former Presidential Adviser David Gergen join us.

Jason, if I could begin with you, New York City, we know the opinion of elected lawmakers there on this, tell us what reactions you are hearing.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the Brooklyn D.A. really just said it best. It just came out with a statement just a short while ago, Eric Gonzales calling it a nightmare for public safety. Saying, because of this ruling now, they are expecting suicides, domestic incidents to street crime, all of these things to rise as a result of this, basically saying that they must meet this critical setback with every tool at this point at their disposal.

So, the question, Jim, then becomes what tools might they have. New York's governor as well as New York's mayor have been preparing for this moment for quite some time. New York's governor said that she would do everything that she could. So, it is understandable at this point that she probably already at this point has some sort of draft legislation on her desk to try to meet this setback.

So, what are some of the things that that might look like? Well, perhaps what they will try to do is throw other road blocks to try to prevent people from getting these types of permits. It could be making these permits more cost-prohibitive, deeper background checks perhaps or maybe changing some of the training requirements in order to get a handgun. But it is very clear, law enforcement looking at this as a major setback.

HARLOW: David Gergen, to you here. Thomas, significant that he wrote this opinion given how long he has said that the Second Amendment, in his view, has been treated as a second class right. When you look at the opinion, page 23, nothing in the Second Amendment, he writes, text draws a home public distinction with the respect to the right to keep or bear arms. Now, the question is the political implications of this, in your mind. As we've seen by the way more of the public polling, even new polling out this morning, moving in favor of more regulations on gun ownership.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I think this is going to be a startling decision in two respects. First of all, the notion that this court has now endorsed the idea that here in Times Square, amidst all the hubbub and human reaction and potential of gangs and so forth and so on, that people can be easily carrying around concealed weapons. That's just startling. It is like, what, are you, crazy, in Times Square? So, I think there is that element.

But, secondly, I don't think the country saw this coming. Yes, the New York officials had been looking at it, but the country's head has not been here.


And I think it's going to add to the sense increasingly in the country, especially when the abortion decision comes down that we have a Supreme Court that is out of touch with the modern day realities, that this does not representing what the democracy, the democratic views of the country. They have gone off on their own -- in their own crusade. It comes at a time when people are very, very worried about the strength of our democracy, and I think this will be seen as anti- democratic by a lot.

SCIUTTO: The polls are clear on where the American public is on greater regulation of guns.

Stand by, please. We have more to discuss, including the broader implications of this. Short break, we'll be right back.



SCIUTTO: A decision from the Supreme Court with enormous implications for this country as it relates to gun rights, reactions to gun violence, including the one we see under way on Capitol Hill right now, and whether those attempts to regulate guns enhance or broaden gun safety measures can survive court muster. Poppy, this has enormous, enormous implications.

HARLOW: Enormous implications, this court wiping away any distinction between having a gun in your home for self-defense as decided in Heller, and now carrying it outside of your home, also which we'll discuss throughout the day here on CNN.

Jim, as you know, this court has now changed the framework of how courts going forward have to look at gun rights and the Second Amendment, no longer the two-part framework, looking now at text and history, which means a lot of the current gun laws could be reheard and re-litigated and challenged. You're exactly right.

Thank you for joining us today for this significant breaking news. We'll see you tomorrow. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. There's still more to come from the Supreme Court in the coming days.

At This Hour with our colleague, Erica Hill, starts right after a quick break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)