A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday broadening federal rights to carry concealed firearms will not change carry permit laws in Washington, but it has spurred concern among state leaders.
The decision published Thursday ruled a New York state law requiring gun owners to show cause to obtain a concealed carry permit unconstitutional, calling the discretionary requirement a violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees,’ ” the opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas reads. “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”
The court split 6-3, with each member of the conservative majority opting to strike down the law and the three liberal justices dissenting, potentially foreshadowing more gun-friendly decisions.
In Washington, gun owners can obtain concealed carry permits if they meet certain requirements, including being at least 21 years old, having never been convicted of a felony and possessing a valid state ID. The state does not have any discretionary criteria.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office oversees the state’s gun permits, said Thursday the decision would not change Washington’s concealed-carry laws, but does signal a shift on gun-safety measures.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision on firearms licensing has no immediate impact on Washington,” Ferguson said. “That said, it ignores legal precedent, endangers public safety and highlights a radical shift by the Supreme Court.”
In response to the decision, Gov. Jay Inslee committed Thursday to upholding the state’s relatively stringent gun-safety efforts.
“The gun carnage on our streets have absolutely nothing to do with a ‘well regulated militia.’ We will vigorously defend every single measure Washingtonians have adopted to protect ourselves, our communities and our children,” Inslee tweeted.
Over the past 20 years, Washington has consistently strengthened regulations on guns, restricting the purchase of semi-automatic rifles, expanding background checks and establishing red flag laws. Most recently, the state Legislature approved a ban this spring on the manufacture, distribution and sale of firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. That ban goes into effect July 1.
A spokesperson confirmed the governor’s office does not interpret the decision to directly impact any existing regulations in the state, but called the ruling a “blow to the majority of Americans who support these kinds of common sense measures that we know help save lives.”