New York City officials approved fewer gun permits in 2022 than the year before, even though the Supreme Court ruled the state’s restrictive gun-carry law unconstitutional.
The NYPD approved just 21 percent of 7,260 such applications in 2022, according to data gathered by reporters at The City. That’s down from 56 percent of the 4,663 applications for gun permits it approved in 2021. The department also ended up leaving the vast majority of 2022 applications neither approved nor denied, in violation of state law. The NYPD did not answer The Reload‘s questions about why the permit approval rate had dropped so drastically, nor did it say why it has let so many applications go without approval or denial past the state-mandated six-month deadline.
The stunted response by city officials to the High Court’s rebuke of its previous permitting practices may cause further issues for the city and the state as it faces down new constitutional challenges to the laws that have replaced the old system. Some justices have already expressed skepticism about the direction New York has decided to go in the months after the Court’s June 2022 landmark Second Amendment ruling.
In New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, the Supreme Court struck down the state’s “proper cause” standard that put the onus on gun-carry applicants to prove their need to own a gun for self-defense purposes, a victory for those arguing the permits weren’t being approved as often as they should be. The Court mandated that carry licenses be granted unless other factors gave reason to deny an applicant, leading to changes all over the country.
The City‘s data show that, instead of applications being approved more often immediately following Bruen, the NYPD became even less likely to approve gun permits of any kind. The department received nearly 5,000 applications for a gun permit from June 24, 2022 to the end of the year but has approved barely over 10 percent of those applications and denied a mere 16, leaving thousands unanswered. The numbers from recent years show a dramatic decline in the approval rate: In 2019, the NYPD approved 75 percent of 3,771 applications, and in 2020 they approved 84 percent of 9,390, demonstrating how steeply the rate had to drop to get down to 10 percent in the months following Bruen.
New York residents hoping to acquire a permit to keep firearms at home have seen the least success. In 2021, the NYPD approved 19 percent of 1,841 applications for a permit to keep their gun at home, but in 2022 the department got the number down to 86 of 2,266—less than 4 percent. Though, many of these also have not been officially denied.
This comes despite a poll from the Siena College Research Institute where one in six respondents from New York City said they had bought a gun for self-defense amid rising crime. It’s an area where the city’s police and many residents appear to be at loggerheads.
The data reported by The City was originally obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request by Attorney Vinoo Varghese. He represents Dexter Taylor, a New York resident facing charges for possession of unlicensed firearms.
In April of 2022, NYPD officials got a search warrant for Taylor’s home and confiscated four “assault weapons,” five handguns, four rifles, and a 3-D printer from him. Taylor did not attempt to acquire a permit for the guns.
“This defendant allegedly acquired a massive arsenal of homemade ghost guns that are as real and dangerous as traditional firearms,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a press release announcing the charges last year. “By assembling guns from kits, unfinished parts, or 3D printed components, those who possess ghost guns evade critically important background checks and registration requirements, and because they have no serial number they are untraceable.”
Varghese has argued for Taylor’s charges to be dismissed on the grounds that his client could not have acquired a permit to keep the guns legally. Verghese attacked the NYPD’s slow and unreliable permitting process, arguing it violated Taylor’s Second Amendment rights.
“A right delayed is a right denied,” Varghese told The City. “They could bury their heads in the sand and try to categorize good men like Dexter Taylor with gangbangers. But that just doesn’t make any sense.”
David Pucino, deputy chief counsel at the pro-gun-control Giffords Law Center, claimed that Taylor’s lack of a permit request was an example of irresponsible gun ownership.
“We are for responsible gun ownership. And that looks like a lot of different things, a lot of different people,” he told The City. “But one thing it certainly doesn’t look like is amassing an arsenal of guns in your home without regard to any of the laws about manufacturing guns or for possessing guns.”
But Taylor argued the system had already made sure his request would not have had a chance of being granted regardless.
“Particularly as a Black man, I knew I would have no chance of obtaining a license due to systemic racism in gun licensing in New York State and nationwide,” he wrote in an affidavit.
Gonzalez’s office has until July 28th to respond to the request to dismiss the charges against Taylor.