The Supreme Court held that a citizen does not need the government’s permission to exercise constitutional rights. In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (June 23, 2022), the Court invalidated a law in the state of New York (“proper-cause requirement”) which banned average citizens from carrying firearms for self-defense unless an individual first demonstrated a “special need” for self-defense.
The Justices observed that a key, defining characteristic of all constitutional rights is the fact that those rights are available to law-abiding citizens as a matter of due process per the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, the Court held that “New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.” The Court pointed out that no other constitutional right allows the government to interfere with a citizen’s ability to exercise that right (e.g. free speech, due process of law, etc.).