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Supreme Court debates balance between public safety, self-defense in N.Y. gun rights case

During oral arguments on Nov. 3, Justice Stephen G. Breyer described how he sees the difference between concealed carry for hunting and for self-defense. (Video: Reuters)

In a spirited discussion, the Supreme Court on Wednesday reviewed a challenge to New York State’s gun restrictions, a case with broad implications for other states that restrict the ability to carry loaded, concealed firearms in public places. It is the first major Second Amendment case before the court in more than a decade.

Gun owners in New York must obtain a special license from local authorities to carry firearms outside the home, showing “proper cause” for needing to do so. Seven other states — California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island — have similar laws.

Several justices asked New York’s lawyer about limiting the right to carry firearms for self-defense in dangerous neighborhoods or while jogging at night, while others expressed concern about the proliferation of guns in highly populated areas.