New York’s latest gun-carry law keeps losing.
A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday blocking enforcement of the state’s ban on gun-carry on private property, specifically at businesses open to the public, unless the owner posts a sign allowing it. The decision from Judge John Sinatra of the Western District of New York is the third injunction issued against portions of the law since it was passed just a few months ago. Judge Sinatra ruled the state’s novel policy of making nearly everywhere in the state off-limits to licensed gun carry by default violated the Second Amendment.
“Property owners indeed have the right to exclude,” he wrote. “But the state may not unilaterally exercise that right and, thereby, interfere with the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens who seek to carry for self-defense outside of their own homes.”
The ruling puts the state’s gun-carry law in further legal peril. It is another rebuke of the state’s attempt to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which struck down the state’s previous gun-carry law as unconstitutional. The numerous rulings against the new law set up another potential showdown with the high court if the state decides to appeal that far.
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D.), who is defending the state in the case, told The Reload she plans to appeal the ruling. The state previously appealed a preliminary injunction issued against most provisions of the law, including the private property ban, in the Northern District. Last week, the Second Circuit put a stay on that injunction pending the appeal.
Judge Sinatra denied the state’s request for a stay on his decision.
“[L]egislative enactments may not eviscerate the Bill of Rights,” he wrote. “Every day they do is one too many.”
Therefore, the state will not be allowed to enforce the private-property gun ban unless and until the Second Circuit steps in again.
Sinatra employed the historical analysis required under the standard set by the Supreme Court in Bruen. He found the policy, which no other state has implemented, is unlike anything in place during the founding period when the Second Amendment was ratified. In fact, he concluded the state’s attempt to regulate gun-carry on private property is antithetical to how guns have traditionally been regulated.
“The Nation’s historical traditions have not countenanced such an incursion into the right to keep and bear arms across all varieties of private property spread across the land,” he wrote.
Judge Sinatra, a Trump appointee, previously issued a preliminary injunction against the state’s ban on carrying guns in places of worship, even if the carrier is licensed and has permission from the church or synagogue. Judge Glenn Suddaby of the Northern District, a George W. Bush appointee, struck down both of the provisions Sinatra has blocked and a collection of other controversial provisions earlier this month. Several other cases against different provisions of the law are pending in the Southern District as well.
The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Second Amendment Foundation backed the lawsuit. The groups celebrated the ruling as a significant win in their fight against New York’s gun-carry law.
“FPC is thrilled that yet another facet of the immoral and unconstitutional Concealed Carry ‘Improvement’ Act has now been enjoined, and look forward to our opportunity to submit supplemental briefing as to why additional restrictions found therein also fail constitutional muster,” William Sack, FPC Director of Legal Operations, told The Reload.
Sinatra’s ruling goes into effect immediately.
UPDATE 11-23-2022 12:59 PM EASTERN: This piece has been updated with comment from the New York Attorney General’s office and FPC.