Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion for a 6-3 majority, holding that the New York law violated the Constitution and signaling other gun regulations disconnected from "historical tradition" would face similar scrutiny in court.
Thomas' opinion had the potential to upend the legal landscape around Second Amendment rights at a time when Americans remain divided over access to guns. Congress, meanwhile, is racing to pass a sweeping package of restrictions in response to recent mass shootings, including one at a Texas elementary school last month.
"We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need," Thomas wrote of the New York law. "It is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense."