By Bill Pan
Two pro-Second Amendment groups are challenging New York’s newly-enacted restrictions on carrying concealed firearms, a measure they say is worse than the one invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.
The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), along with the Firearms Policy Coalition and two private citizens, on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit targeting Senate Bill S51001, the Empire State’s replacement of a century-old concealed carry statue, which was declared unlawful by the nation’s highest court.
The measure, now known as the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA), is supposedly designed to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 23. In that decision, the high court’s originalist-leaning 6-3 majority found it unconstitutional for the government to require people to demonstrate a “proper cause” in order to obtain a license to carry a gun outside of their homes.
Instead of demanding that license applicants prove they have a good cause, the CCIA prevents those who already hold a license from carrying a handgun in designated “sensitive locations,” including, but not limited to, public transportation, public parks, and all “private property open to the public.” It also automatically applies the “restricted locations” status to all private properties, where one may not carry concealed weapons unless property owners give “express content” for them to do so.
In their complaint (pdf), the SAF argued that the new rule is just as unconstitutional as the now-nullified “proper cause” law.
“S51001 replaced one unconstitutional licensing scheme with another, and worse, implemented expansive new criminal laws that ban carry of firearms in so-called ‘sensitive locations’ and presumptively on most property in the state—even for those who lawfully acquire and possess a license under the State’s onerous new licensing scheme,” the complaint read.
“The State’s designation of these ‘sensitive’ or ‘restricted’ locations constitutes a de facto ban on the carriage of loaded, operable handguns for self-defense,” it added.
According to the pro-gun right groups, the definition of “sensitive location” is so broad that it effectively renders a valid concealed carry license meaningless. For example, the CCIA classifies “public parks,” which come in all shapes and sizes, as sensitive locations. This means one cannot legally conceal and carry a gun for self-defense in for example Adirondack Park, six million acres of wilderness covering roughly one-fifth of New York State’s land area.
The groups also took issue with the automatic designation of all private properties as “restricted locations,” arguing that it “essentially deputizes all property owners in the State to effectuate a carry ban that the Supreme Court most recently invalidated.”
Brett Christian, who is listed as a plaintiff, claimed that the CCIA is preventing him from carrying his weapon for self-defense when going about his day-to-day life.
Specifically, according to the complaint, Christian can no longer brings his gun with him during weekly visits to gas stations and monthly visits to hardware stores. Instead, he has to disable and store the gun before even walking into or driving his car near these “sensitive locations” in order not to commit a criminal offense. He is also unable to carry for self-defense when visiting local parks or hiking on trails, including the Adirondacks, a place he plans to see again later this year.
“The fact that New York’s new regulatory scheme essentially prohibits lawful carry in most public places is outrageous,” SAF founder and vice president Alan Gottlieb said. “The state is being too clever by half, and we’re confident that the federal courts, with the recent guidance from the Supreme Court on Second Amendment jurisprudence, will bring a quick end to this nonsense.”
The CCIA took effect on Sept. 1 after surviving a court challenge to block its enactment by Gun Owners of America, a pro-Second Amendment organization based in Virginia. New York Attorney General Letitia James said at that time that she “successfully defended” its constitutionality from “baseless attacks by gun lobby.”
“Responsible gun control measures save lives and any attempts by the gun lobby to tear down New York’s sensible gun control laws will be met with fierce defense of the law,” James said. “We will continue to defend the constitutionality of our laws to protect all New Yorkers.”