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Expert: Supreme Court ruling expands range of gun rights and changes reading of Constitution


Media contacts: Emily Gowdey-Backus, 978-934-3369, [email protected] and Nancy Cicco, 978-934-4944, [email protected]

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday that expands the right to bear a gun in public means the majority of the panel believes the right to bear arms is ‘fundamental’ under the Constitution and should not be subjugated to a different standard, according to a UMass Lowell expert available for interviews.

The 6-3 ruling overturns a New York law that requires people seeking a license to carry a handgun outside the home to show good cause or special need to do so. Other states, including Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey and Rhode Island, have similar laws on the books, according to briefs filed in the case.

The court found that the New York law violated the rights of individuals protected by the Constitution’s Second and 14th Amendments, and that the right to “own and bear arms” includes the right to carry a handgun in public for to defend himself, without proving such a cause. The decision comes as the U.S. Senate — in a bipartisan effort — strives to pass gun control legislation, prompted after recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, in New York State, among other communities.

“Judge Thomas made it clear that the new majority views gun rights as the same as all other basic rights. Their inherently dangerous nature does not mean they can be treated any differently. This is a major departure from the previous view that gun rights must be weighed against the risks they pose,” said Morgan Marietta, Constitutional Scholar and Authority on High Court. “Today’s decision reflects a much larger shift in how the Court reads the Constitution, from a living document to an original document. The new majority sees the Constitution and Bill of Rights in a more uncompromising light that will change American law in the years to come far beyond guns — to abortion, religion, criminal justice and environmental regulations.

Marietta is available to discuss:

  • How the decision in this case shines a light on the thinking of the now majority Conservative judges;
  • The dissenting opinion in this case;
  • Other recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that affect individual liberties.

Marietta, associate professor and acting chair of the political science department at UMass Lowell, is the editor of an annual volume on major Supreme Court decisions and is the author of several books on American politics, including the most recent, “One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy,” from Oxford University Press. Along with constitutional law, Marietta’s research focuses on American politics and political psychology.

To arrange an interview with him by phone, email, or Zoom (or another platform), contact Emily Gowdey-Backus at [email protected] or Nancy Cicco at [email protected]