U.S. Supreme Court decision favoring gun owners smarts in the wake of race-related Buffalo mass shooting

By Melanie Eversley & Nanette D. Massey

NABJ Black News & Views

The Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling Thursday striking down a New York State law that required anyone carrying a firearm in public to show proper cause.

The decision hits especially hard in New York State, where a gunman opened fire in May at a Buffalo supermarket with the alleged goal of shooting Black and Brown people. A total of 10 Black people were murdered.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the decision “reprehensible” and made reference to the recent mass shootings at Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, and what she called the “insanity of the gun culture.”

“Our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can and have laws that protect our citizens,” she said.

The governor also noted that the Second Amendment, on which the court’s decision was based, came at a time when people carried muskets, not assault weapons.

Two women embrace at a vigil for the victims of the racially motivated May 14, 2022, mass shooting at a supermarket on Buffalo's predominantly Black East Side. Photo credit: Joshua Therimdor
Two women embrace at a vigil for the victims of the racially motivated May 14, 2022, mass shooting at a supermarket on Buffalo’s predominantly Black East Side. Photo credit: Joshua Therimdor

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, a Democrat who also is Black, has been outspoken about the need for better regulation of guns and was equally critical of the high court decision.

“The City of Buffalo continues to mourn the loss of 10 innocent members of our community at the hands of a mass murderer motivated by racism and hate,” Brown said in a statement emailed to BNV. “Unfortunately, today’s decision will eventually lead to more concealed weapons to be carried on the streets of Buffalo and America, rather than taking additional steps toward sensible gun reform.”

Brown added, “American families impacted by gun violence everywhere deserve action to prevent tragedies, including the one we experienced in Buffalo, from ever happening again.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, also a Black Democrat, said the Supreme Court decision will affect every community, not just those in New York State.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, a New Yorker and founder of the National Action Network, called the ruling “devastating and dangerous.”

“This ruling could not have come at a worse time, as we have been working to de-escalate gun violence in the city,” Sharpton said.

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke, a Black Democrat representing Brooklyn, New York, tweeted: “An absolutely shameful decision from a blatantly partisan court that will only bring more pain and tragedy and violence to New York communities. I am disgusted.”

The reactions out of the Empire State were particularly headed because of one of painfully violent mass shooting that took place in Buffalo seven weeks ago.

On May 14, 18-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, took a Bushmaster XM-15 assault rifle to Buffalo’s predominantly Black East Side and opened fire at Tops Friendly Markets. Gendron, allegedly inspired by a theory that Black and Brown people are replacing white people in America, shot 13 people, 10 of them fatally.

Witness Carlton Steverson, an employee at Tops, told BNV that he is undergoing counseling to help him get over what he saw that weekend afternoon.

“I care more about my coworkers,” he said. “If I see someone having a bad day, I’ll make it my business to ask what’s going on and what I can do. And I hope customers too can understand that the cashier they’re dealing with might be going through something in that moment and maybe be a little more understanding.”

Brian Kilianski, a gun owner from the Buffalo suburb of Lancaster, told BNV that it was important to him to volunteer to help the survivors of the May 14 shooting.

“I’m white and in the suburbs but this is my community too,” Kilianski said. “Even as a gun owner I still can’t fathom (Gendron’s shooting spree). I just don’t get it. That’s somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s sister. How could you?” 

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