Senate panel debates impact of Supreme Court’s Bruen decision on gun laws

It’s been less than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York gun safety law in a ruling that reshaped the legal landscape for gun laws.

The conservative majority on the high court ruled the New York law that set strict limits on when people can carry guns in public was unconstitutional.

The ruling was a major victory for gun rights advocates.

The Senate Judiciary Committee debated the lasting impact of that decision in a hearing on Wednesday.

“The chaos that the Bruen decision has caused was predictable,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The Supreme Court has imposed a radical new framework.”

“Responsible gun ownership is part of American society,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Now is the time to reinforce responsible gun ownership. Not to undermine it.”

Gun safety advocates are calling the ruling a dangerous setback, particularly for domestic violence survivors.

“Some abusive intimate partners will legally access firearms they were previously forbidden from possessing and some will use those firearms to terrorize and even kill their victims or others,” said Ruth Glenn, President of Public Affairs for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “The uncertainty created by Bruen has placed victims and their children in fear of their lives and created yet another barrier to safety.”

Gun rights supporters, meanwhile, argued the ruling rightfully protects the second amendment.

“Under Bruen, judges must assess whether the challenged restriction is consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearms regulation,” said Amy Swearer, a Senior Legal Fellow with the Heritage Foundation. “Bruen’s immediate impact on public safety is positive.”

The Bruen case has led to legal challenges to other state gun laws, too.

“That’s my concern is that we’ve opened the floodgates,” said Mary Wright Baylor, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action.

Baylor was part of a group of gun safety advocates who attended Wednesday’s hearing in-person to show support for gun violence survivors and for gun safety measures.

“I’ve been a registered nurse for almost 50 years, and I have held people literally dying in my arms of gun violence,” said Baylor. “I have committed my career and now my retirement to addressing these issues.”

It’s unlikely that federal lawmakers will pass any new gun safety legislation any time soon since there is a divided Congress this session.

But there has been some movement from President Biden, who has limited power through executive actions.

On Tuesday, President Biden signed an order that aims to expand gun background checks.