New York’s new gun-carry laws have come under immediate legal fire.
Three separate Second Amendment challenges were filed against the state on Monday. Plaintiffs challenged the new restrictions on where guns can be carried as well as the new process for reviewing applications. The three suits are direct pushback against New York’s attempt to sidestep the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen last month which struck down part of the state’s gun carry regime.
“Instead of acknowledging the clear line in the sand drawn by the U.S. Supreme Court, Governor Hochul and the radical anti-gunners in Albany are doubling down on nearly every front to restrict the rights of their citizens to carry arms for self-defense,” Erich Pratt, Senior Vice President of Gun Owners of America (GOA), which filed one of the suites, said in a statement. “Especially when crime is on the rise in places like New York City, GOA stands ready to fight for Americans’ right to defend themselves in public when danger rises.”
The new lawsuits set up the next battle over gun-carry regulations. The outcome of the cases could indicate how both the lower courts and the Supreme Court intend to enforce the new standard for deciding gun cases. If the lower courts uphold the strenuous new restrictions and the Supreme Court does not step in, it could signal the workarounds are viable. If federal courts are unreceptive to New York’s new restrictions or the Supreme Court quickly takes up one of the cases, it would indicate the Court is less willing to give states and lower courts leeway in interpreting the Second Amendment.
The latter outcome is what GOA and the other plaintiffs are hoping to see. The GOA suit and a separate suit by lawyer Jonathan Corbett on his own behalf target the New York law’s new requirements for issuing permits. They claim the state is not only doubling down on the subjective nature of its permitting system after the Supreme Court rebuked it, but going even further than it had before.
“But in spite of the Supreme Court’s clear pronouncements in Bruen, New York apparently did not ‘get the memo.’” GOA’s filing said. “On the contrary, rather than representing a good-faith attempt to bring New York law into compliance with the Second Amendment and the Bruen decision, the [new law] instead doubles down, flouting the people’s right to keep and bear arms, and in fact creating a far more onerous and restrictive concealed carry scheme even than that which existed prior to the Bruen decision (if such thing is possible).”
Corbett’s case claimed the required social media check could effectively end anonymous speech if a resident wants to exercise their Second Amendment rights to carry a firearm. He argued it could force applicants to expose their sexual identity, side jobs in the adult industry, or even political advocacy.
“The person who uses social media to document police misconduct, too, must de-anonymize themselves, as is the supporter of Black Lives Matter or any other marginalized political group,” Corbett said.
Another suit by controversial congressional candidate Carl Paladino challenges the new restrictions on where those with permits can carry guns. He specifically criticized the state’s restriction on carry in any place of business that doesn’t post a sign expressly allowing the practice.
“It would be patently unconstitutional for the State to require citizens to seek permission from the owner of each property they visit before they could legally speak or pray,” the suit said. “So too, it is unconstitutional to treat Second Amendment rights in this way, especially after the Supreme Court declared: ‘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.'”
Halimah Elmariah, Deputy Press Secretary for New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.), noted the AG “is prepared to defend the constitutionality of New York’s gun laws” and pointed The Reload to James’s previous comments on the Bruen decision.
“Make no mistake: This decision will not deter us from standing up to the gun lobby and their repeated efforts to endanger New Yorkers,” James said at the time. “I vow to use the full force of my office to protect New Yorkers and American families.”
The three suits represent the first line of attack against the new gun restrictions passed in response to the Bruen decision. The way the legal fights play out will determine the future of gun litigation in America.
Sam Paredes, a board member for the Gun Owners Foundation, said his group will fight any attempts to sidestep the Bruen ruling.
“Given the rampant anti-Second Amendment sentiment in New York, we were not surprised that new attempts to tip-toe around the clear SCOTUS precedent would come, and GOF was well prepared to step in to defend the rights of New Yorkers,” he said in a statement. “We are confident that we will fully defeat this comprehensive gun restriction package in Court.”
UPDATE 7-14-2022 1:10 PM EASTERN: This piece has been updated to include comment from the New York Attorney General’s office.