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After a SCOTUS rebuke, New York imposes pressing new restrictions on the right to bear arms

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation last week that is expected to comply with a recent Supreme Court decision challenging her state’s restrictions on carrying guns in public. In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Brue, decided June 23, the court said New York’s “good cause” requirement for carrier permits violated the Second Amendment. The majority noted that New York law gave local officials broad discretion to deny applications, turning “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” into the privilege of the few.

The new law retains much of the discretion under a different name and creates a broad list of “sensitive locations” where guns are prohibited, making it difficult or impossible even for license holders to carry firearms for self-defense. Not taking seriously the court’s objections to the old policy, New York is mounting a new constitutional challenge.

“This measure, along with other punitive and prohibitive measures, widely expands the … heavy burden of obtaining government permits for the exercise of fundamental rights [and] curb the places where New Yorkers might actually exercise those rights,” says the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC). “The natural rights of New Yorkers [are] extremely important, thought the tyrants of Albany, or not. The governor and his cohort of anti-rights lawmakers should have no doubt that the FPC will use every tool available to right this historic wrong.”

Under SB 51001, permit applicants no longer have to show a “good reason” to carry guns, which state courts had interpreted to mean more than the public interest in self-defense. But applicants must still demonstrate “good moral character,” which is newly defined as “the essential character, character, and judgment necessary to be entrusted with a weapon and to use it only in a manner that does not endanger themselves or others.” For this, the law requires “at least four character references that can prove the applicant’s good moral character.”

These references are not necessarily conclusive. In addition to completing background checks and firearms training, applicants must submit “a list of past and present social media accounts” from the previous three years to “verify information about the applicant’s character and conduct.” It’s not hard to imagine how licensing authorities could use such information, possibly due to inappropriate gun enthusiasm or inappropriate political remarks, when evaluating whether an applicant should be “trusted with a gun.”

Licensing authorities are also entitled to request “other information” that is “reasonably necessary and related to the processing of the permit application”. If they decide not to issue a license, the applicant has 90 days to request a hearing before an appeals board set up by the Criminal Justice Commissioner and the state police chief. These officials are tasked with writing the rules for the appeals process, which are unlikely to be friendly to rejected applicants.

If a gun owner successfully jumps through the state’s hoops, they have the right to carry a concealed weapon outside of their home. But not on government property or health care facilities, places of worship, libraries, playgrounds, parks, zoos, museums, childcare facilities, schools (including university campuses), public transportation or stations, bars or restaurants licensed to serve alcohol, sports or entertainment venues, amusement parks, casinos or racetracks, convention centers, ballrooms, protest sites, or “the area commonly known as Times Square.” A permit holder is not even allowed to carry a gun on sidewalks when their access is “restricted from public access for a limited time or special event,” which happens regularly in New York.

Possession of a gun in any of these “sensitive locations” is a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison. Any permit holder who wants to use their newly issued permit to carry a handgun for self-defense needs to think long and hard about whether they might enter or pass through one of these places after leaving home. And if he specifically wants to protect himself or others by going to church, riding public transportation, visiting Times Square, or engaging in any number of other activities that the state has deemed inconsistent with owning a gun, he must recognize that he is risking a criminal charge that could upend his life and send him him to prison.

The same law controversially states that owners of “private property” may choose to allow guns, provided they post a notice to that effect. But that is clearly not the case if the private property happens to fall into one of the categories defined as a “sensitive location.”

Hochul says the law “makes “no conveyance” the default for private property unless [guns are] Property owners think it’s allowed.” He argues that this policy “gives businesses and property owners the power to decide whether they want guns in their establishments, which could include bars, restaurants, shops or grocery stores.” But the state has already made the decision for owners of restaurants that have liquor licenses, and not bar owners also have no choice in the matter, unless they run one of the rare taverns that do not serve alcohol.films, present plays, host concerts or games, display art or animals, allow people to play, train or develop them, etc.

Hochul does not bother to justify all these limitations. At the press conference exchange With CBS news anchor Anne McCloy in Albany, the governor said he didn’t need proof that permit holders — by definition law-abiding — are involved in the gun violence he claims to prevent.

“Do you have any numbers that show that concealed carry permit holders commit crimes?” McCloy asked. He noted that “the legal gun owner says you’re attacking the wrong person,” that “the violence is really caused by the people who get these guns illegally, not the people who go and get a permit legally.” This difference, McCloy suggested, “is the basis of the entire argument of the Supreme Court.”

Hochul’s answer was revealing. “I don’t need to have numbers,” he said. “I don’t have to have a data point that I can point to that this is happening [matter]. All I know is that I have a responsibility to enforce gun safety laws that make sense to the people of this state…I don’t need a data point to claim that I have a responsibility to protect the people of this state.” In other words, good intentions are important even if you can’t provide reasons to believe they will produce good results.

Hochul seems to be completely oblivious to the point made by the Supreme Court Brue, which ruled out the kind of “interest-balancing” approach he clumsily applies. According to the court, the constitutional test of a gun control law is not whether politicians or judges believe that its benefits outweigh the burden it places on Second Amendment rights. The test is whether the law is analogous to the restrictions that have traditionally been held to apply to the right to keep and bear arms. When the law makes it nearly impossible to exercise this right, as New York’s former policy did and its new policy, the “numbers” or “point of information”[s]”, even if they are apt and persuasive, they cannot justify it.

The “sensitive locations” ploy, which Hochul said was developed “after extensive discussions with constitutional and policy experts,” aims to take advantage of the distinction the court made in the landmark Second Amendment case. District of Columbia v. Heller. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that “nothing in our view should call into question long-standing prohibitions” such as “laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.” But below BrueThe logic is that the exception does not allow the state to multiply the number of “sensitive places” to the point where carrying a gun for self-defense, even with a permit, is legally dangerous.

Of course, Hochul is not a fan Bruewhich he describes as a “reckless decision” that “removes[ed] century-old restrictions on who can carry concealed weapons in our state — it’s sending us unreasonably backward and putting the safety of our residents at risk.” However, Hochul is bound to obey that ruling. Instead, he’s suing to get him .

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