Organizers are reeling yet determined following Supreme Court’s dangerous expansion of gun rights

By Zane McNeill

After celebrating the Senate’s gun control legislation, advocates are planning new actions in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on concealed carry.

On June 23, the Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen that New York’s concealed carry law was unconstitutional. New York’s law, which was over 100 years old, required that a person who wanted to carry a concealed handgun in public needed to apply for a license and show “proper cause” illustrating their specific need to carry. In a 6-3 decision by the court’s conservative majority, the justices ruled that the requirement to demonstrate a need to carry violated the Second Amendment.

This decision has been heralded as a “extreme and dangerous expansion of the Second Amendment” by the gun control advocate group March for Our Lives, and is expected to increase the number of guns carried in the nation’s largest cities. March for Our Lives’ mission is to promote civil engagement, education and direct action by youth to eliminate the epidemic of gun violence.

With the country still grieving the Uvalde school shooting in May that left 19 students and 2 teachers dead, March for Our Lives posted that this decision will lead to the deaths of other young people in the United States. Currently, the number one cause of death for children in the U.S. is gun violence and in this year alone, over 20,000 people have died from gun violence-related deaths. 

This Supreme Court decision also comes on the heels of the nationwide March for Our Lives rallies, which drew over 40,000 people in D.C. and tens of thousands more across the country. March for Our Lives was started by teens who survived the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 people in Parkland, Florida.

In the March for Our Lives rally in Austin, Texas on June 11, relatives of nine-year-old Jackie Cazares and one-year-old Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez — both murdered in the Uvalde school shooting — addressed the crowd. The Texas Tribune reported that Jackie Cazares’ 17-year-old sister Jazmin said “I am unbelievably angry, but I’m not going to turn my anger into hate. I’m going to channel that anger, and I’m going to create some real change.”

In response to the Bruen decision, March for Our Lives, Gays Against Guns, Youth Over Guns, Moms Demand Action, and the nonprofit Brady: United Against Gun Violence, organized a rally in Union Square for New Yorkers to voice their outrage and frustration over this decision. An additional rally, organized by Justice League NYC, an initiative of Gathering For Justice, will take place in Foley Square tonight.

March for Our Lives has also quickly organized other actions, including a mass call to discuss the legal implications of this decision, what actions advocates can take in response and other rallies and demonstrations.

Despite this attack on gun control, advocates remain optimistic that youth organizers will end the gun violence epidemic within their lifetimes. After meeting with over 70 Senate offices and  testifying in Congress, March for Our Lives celebrated the Senate passage of a bipartisan gun control bill in a 65-33 vote, tweeting “Gun violence is the #1 thing killing us kids. We won’t stop until we’re ALL safe.”

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act would fund states’ implementation of Extreme Risk Protection Orders, also known as “red flag” laws, clarify the definition of a firearms dealer which would encourage increased usage of background check systems, prevent domestic abusers from purchasing firearms, increase funding for mental health services and strengthen background check procedures for purchasers under 21 years old.

Zane McNeill is the founder of the DEIJ organization, Roots DEI Consulting and Policy, and co-manager of the labor rights group, Rights for Animal Rights Advocates (RARA). They have published anthologies on anti-carceral veganism and queer and trans liberation with PM Press, Sanctuary Press, and Lantern Publishing and Media. They are also a contributing writer with Sentient Media and Law@theMargins.

This article was published on June 24, 2022, at Waging Nonviolence.

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