Less than a week after the Supreme Court struck down New York state’s “proper cause” requirement for issuing gun-carry permits, a pair of gun-rights groups are back in court seeking to block any further enforcement of the requirement in New York City.
The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), joined by the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), filed a motion for preliminary injunction in federal court on Wednesday. The motion seeks an order permanently blocking the city from enforcing its discretionary permitting law.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling that New York State’s ‘good cause’ mandate is unconstitutional, we felt compelled to file this action because the city’s ‘proper cause’ requirement is just as bad if not worse,” Alan Gottlieb, SAF founder, said in a press release. “Two of our plaintiffs previously held carry licenses in New York City for decades, but in 2020, both were denied renewal on the grounds they lacked ‘proper cause’.”
The maneuver follows the ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA) v. Bruen last Thursday. The Supreme Court found that allowing government officials to use subjective discretion when determining which applicants had a special reason to need a permit—also known as may-issue permitting—violated the Second Amendment.
“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,’” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the 6-3 Court. “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”
Gottlieb noted that in two other states with similar may-issue laws to New York’s, California and New Jersey, both issued directives to law enforcement to stop enforcing their respective good cause provisions “within 24 hours of the high court ruling.” He said that New York City’s failure to immediately comport with the Supreme Court’s ruling warranted further legal action.
“We should not have to drag the city kicking and screaming into the 21st Century and into compliance with the Second Amendment,” Gottlieb said.
The decision in Bruen also notably established a new standard of review for lower courts to follow when deciding Second Amendment cases going forward. It rejected the traditional two-step interest balancing framework many federal courts have used to uphold gun-control measures over the last decade, in favor of a test largely based on the text of the Second Amendment and the historical record of gun laws near the time of the Constitution’s ratification.
Such a change will likely result in many gun regulations adopted well after the Founding Era being struck down, including controversial measures such as so-called assault weapons bans and magazine restrictions.I n the meantime, gun rights advocates are hoping that New York City will be the first jurisdiction to be rebuked in federal court following the Bruen decision.
“It’s high time the people have their rights respected,” Matthew Larosiere, FPC’s Policy Counsel, said in a statement. “New Yorkers have been suffering second-class treatment at the hands of an oppressive government for too long. With the Supreme Court pointing to the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command,’ we hope to finally liberate the people from these absurd restrictions on their natural right to keep and bear arms.”
Officials with the New York City Law Department did not respond to a request for comment.