Justice Breyer continued: Thus, it has only been in the last few decades that States have shifted toward “shall issue” licensing laws. Prior to that, most States operated “may issue” licensing regimes without legal or practical problem. Moreover, even considering, as the Court does, only the present state of play, its tally provides an incomplete picture because it accounts for only the number of States with “may issue” regimes, not the number of people governed by those regimes. By the Court’s count, the seven “may issue” jurisdictions are New York, California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. Ante, at 5–6. Together, these seven jurisdictions comprise about 84.4 million people and account for over a quarter of the country’s population. U. S. Census Bureau, 2020 Population and Housing State Data (Aug. 12, 2021) (2020 Population), https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/ interactive/2020-population-and-housing-state-data.html.
Thus, “may issue” laws can hardly be described as a marginal or outdated regime. And there are good reasons why these seven jurisdictions may have chosen not to follow other States in shifting toward “shall issue” regimes. The seven remaining “may issue” jurisdictions are among the most densely populated in the United States: the District of Columbia (with an average of 11,280.0 people/square mile in 2020), New Jersey (1,263.0), Massachusetts (901.2), Maryland (636.1), New York (428.7), California (253.7), and Hawaii (226.6). U. S. Census Bureau, Historical Population Density (1910–2020) (Apr. 26, 2001), https://www.census.gov/data/tables/timeseries/dec/density-data-text.html. In comparison, the average population density of the United States as a whole is 93.8 people/square mile, and some States have population densities as low as 1.3 (Alaska), 5.9 (Wyoming), and 7.4 (Montana) people/square mile. Ibid.
The dissent puts the majority decision into perspective in that this decision only has a significant effect on the seven listed states, including New Jersey. It further notes that these states comprise about one quarter of the U.S. population. It is heartening to consider that three quarter of the population have had expansive carriage laws for years without a significant push to curtail those rights out of fear for increased gun violence. On the other hand, it is amusing that the New Jersey authorities do not trust us to pump our own gas, but are required to permit most of us to carry concealed firearms.