The US supreme court has struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on the carrying of guns outside the home.
The move by the court on Thursday essentially expands gun rights in the US and is likely to make it more difficult for states to put in place restrictions.
The court found that the second and 14th amendments protected an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defence outside the home.
The ruling on Thursday is likely have significant broader implications for other parts of the country that had sought to put in place restrictions on who can carry firearms.
US president Joe Biden, who has called gun violence a national embarrassment, condemned the decision.
“This ruling contradicts both common sense and the constitution, and should deeply trouble us all,” Mr Biden said. “In the wake of the horrific attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde, as well as the daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines, we must do more as a society — not less — to protect our fellow Americans.”
The supreme court ruling also comes at a time when the US is dealing with a series of mass shootings which have led to widespread debate over gun controls.
The US senate is close to reaching a deal on a package of gun-safety measures which although it represents the first moves to implement new controls in more than two decades, does not go nearly as far as suggested by US president Joe Biden.
The New York law, which had been on the books for 100 years, required that people seeking a licence to carry a handgun outside their homes show a “proper cause”. California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island have similar laws.
The legal case was taken by two men in New York who were denied such licences.
New York solicitor general Barbara Underwood told the court that neither of the men, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, received unrestricted licences because “neither demonstrated a nonspeculative need to carry a handgun virtually anywhere in public”.
They had rights to carry firearms for target practice and hunting away from populated areas and Mr Koch was allowed to carry a gun to and from work.
The supreme court, which has a conservative supermajority at present, struck down the New York law on a 6:3 majority. The three liberal members of the court dissented.
New York governor Kathy Hochul said at the time the US constitution was drafted the main weapons available were muskets. She said she did not think the constitution’s framers had in mind high-capacity magazines that were designed for the battlefield. — Additional reporting: Reuters