NY’s New Gun Law Opposes SCOTUS Decision
After being struck down by the SCOTUS, New York introduced a new gun control law that presents a potentially greater threat to our freedoms.
From The Federalist. The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that the Second Amendment guarantees law-abiding citizens the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, both in their homes and in public. On Friday, New York responded that it didn’t care.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul ushered in the long Independence Day weekend on Friday by signing into law legislation crafted in response to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. Just more than a week earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court in Bruen had declared that New York’s prior “may issue” gun licensing scheme, which prohibited individuals from carrying concealed handguns unless they “demonstrate[d] a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community,” violated the Second Amendment. In reaching that conclusion, the high court stressed that the right to “bear arms,” by necessity, applies outside the home.
The New York legislature responded by calling an extraordinary session and then passing the bill Hochul signed into law on Friday. That hastily passed statute established detailed regulations governing a citizen’s right to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon and added restrictive limits to where such concealed weapons could be carried. Both aspects of the New York legislation run headlong into the Supreme Court’s analysis in Bruen—and potentially First Amendment jurisprudence.
Overturn the Supreme Court
In Bruen, in declaring unconstitutional New York’s “may issue” gun licensing scheme, the Supreme Court stressed, “to be clear, nothing in our analysis should be interpreted to suggest the unconstitutionality of the 43 States’ ‘shall-issue’ licensing regimes, under which ‘a general desire for self-defense is sufficient to obtain a [permit]….’”
Significantly, though, the Supreme Court in Bruen stressed that “because any permitting scheme can be put toward abusive ends, we do not rule out constitutional challenges to shall-issue regimes where, for example, lengthy wait times in processing license applications or exorbitant fees deny ordinary citizens their right to public carry.” New York’s just-passed “shall-issue” permitting scheme sidles toward abusive ends, although it remains too early to judge if the state crossed the constitutional line suggested in Bruen—that regulations that “deny ordinary citizens their right to public carry” run afoul of the Second Amendment.
Want Self-Defense? Let’s Inspect Your Speech
Among other things, to obtain a conceal-carry permit in New York, an applicant must complete 16 hours of in-person live curriculum and two hours of a live-fire range training course. In addition to completing the forms and providing details of other individuals residing in the same abode, applicants must also provide the licensing officer with four character references and “a list of former and current social media accounts of the applicant from the past three years….”
The statute provides that licensing officers need that information to determine if a candidate has “good moral character,” which is defined as meaning “having the essential character, temperament and judgment necessary to be entrusted with a weapon and to use it only in a manner that does not endanger oneself or others.” But requiring applicants to disclose to government officials their protected speech, which likely includes political speech and possibly speech engaged in anonymously, raises serious First Amendment concerns not yet analyzed by the courts….
Massive Constitutional Suspension Zones
The larger constitutional problem with New York’s revised conceal-carry law concerns the state’s attempt to, in essence, declare most public spaces “sensitive locations” in which guns cannot be carried even by permitted individuals. Specifically, the statute makes it a felony to carry firearms “in or upon a sensitive location,” then provides an exhaustive list of sensitive locations which, because of its constitutional significance, is excerpted in full below:
(a) any place owned or under the control of federal, state or local government, for the purpose of government administration, including courts;
(b) any location providing health … care or services;
(c) any place of worship…
(d) libraries, public playgrounds, public parks, and zoos;
(e) the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, funded, or approved by the office of children and family services that provides services to children, youth, or young adults, any legally exempt childcare provider…
(f) nursery schools, preschools, and summer camps;
(g) the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, operated, or funded by the office for people with developmental disabilities;
(h) the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, operated, or funded by office of addiction services and supports;
(i) the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, operated, or funded by the office of mental health;
(j) the location of any program licensed, regulated, certified, operated, or funded by the office of temporary and disability assistance;
(k) homeless shelters, runaway homeless youth shelters, family shelters, shelters for adults, domestic violence shelters, and emergency shelters, and residential programs for victims of domestic violence;
(l) residential settings licensed, certified, regulated, funded, or operated by the department of health;
(m) in or upon any building or grounds, owned or leased, of any educational institutions…
(n) any place, conveyance, or vehicle used for public transportation or public transit…
(o) any establishment issued a license for on-premise consumption pursuant to article four, four-A, five, or six of the alcoholic beverage control law where alcohol is consumed…
(p) any place used for the performance, art entertainment, gaming, or sporting events…
(q) any location being used as a polling place;
(r) any public sidewalk or other public area restricted from general public access for a limited time or special event that has been issued a permit for such time or event by a governmental entity…
(s) any gathering of individuals to collectively express their constitutional rights to protest or assemble;
(t) the area commonly known as Times Square…
Merely skimming these provisions confirms the breadth of the new law, which leaves New York residents with few public places where they may legally carry a gun for self-defense. That bottom line strikes to the core of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Bruen that the Second Amendment guarantees a right for law-abiding, responsible citizens to carry a firearm in public for purposes of self-defense. New York’s expansive list of supposedly “sensitive locations” likewise ignores the Supreme Court’s analysis in Bruen….
What do you think of this new law? Share your thoughts and prayers below.
(Excerpt from The Federalist. Photo Credit: Canva)
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