WASHINGTON (CBS News) — The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York law that placed strict restrictions on carrying concealed firearms in public for self-defense, finding its requirement that applicants seeking a concealed carry license demonstrate a “proper cause” is unconstitutional.

In a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision upholding New York’s 108-year-old law limiting who can obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in public. Proponents of the measure warned that a ruling from the high court invalidating it could threaten gun restrictions in several states and lead to more firearms on city streets.

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Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the majority opinion for the ideologically divided court, writing that New York’s “proper-cause requirement” prevented law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment right, and its licensing regime is unconstitutional.

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“The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees,'” Thomas wrote. “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self-defense.”

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