2nd Amendment advocates secured a victory Tuesday in New York City.
A federal judge struck down recent provisions in New York City’s gun restrictions as unconstitutional, saying officials have been allowed too much discretion to deny gun permits to people deemed ‘not of good moral character,'” the Associated Press reports.
“A federal judge for a second time declared multiple portions of New York’s new gun law unconstitutional, including rules that restrict carrying firearms in public parks and places of worship.”https://t.co/ObkMpv5QTR pic.twitter.com/K0KOPyWFAx
— Crime Prevention Research Center (@CrimeResearch1) October 25, 2023
“Judge John P. Cronan in Manhattan said in a written ruling that the ‘magnitude of discretion’ afforded to city gun licensing officials under facets of the city’s administrative code violated the Constitution’s 2nd and 14th amendments,” the outlet added.
The Associated Press reports:
In particular, the judge cited provisions empowering officials to evaluate an applicant’s “good moral character” and whether “good cause exists for the denial” of gun permits.
The ruling added the city to the growing number of municipalities nationwide whose gun restrictions have been struck down after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2022 found that Americans have a right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.
The Supreme Court’s so-called Bruen decision, which struck down a New York gun law, was the high court’s first major gun decision in over a decade. It has led to lower courts striking down various gun laws and prompted the Supreme Court earlier this year to agree to decide whether judges are going too far in striking down restrictions on firearms.
The judge said he was staying the effect of his ruling until midnight Thursday to give the city time to appeal.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed last year by Joseph Srour, who was denied a permit to possess rifles and shotguns in his home by officials who cited prior arrests, bad driving history and alleged false statements on applications.
Breaking: New York City Gun Restrictions Ruled Unconstitutional
— The Reload (@TheReloadSite) October 24, 2023
“This case is not about the ability of a state or municipality to impose appropriate and constitutionally valid regulations governing the issuance of firearm licenses and permits. The constitutional infirmities identified herein lie not in the City’s decision to impose requirements for the possession of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Rather, the provisions fail to pass constitutional muster because of the magnitude of discretion afforded to City officials in denying an individual their constitutional right to keep and bear firearms, and because of Defendants’ failure to show that such unabridged discretion has any grounding in our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” Cronan wrote in his 48-page ruling.
“The Court has already concluded that Srour succeeds on the merits of his facial challenge to subsections (a)(2) and (a)(9) of New York City Administrative Code Section 10-303. The Court also finds that all four of the eBay factors weigh in Srour’s favor. First, Srour has suffered irreparable injury by being denied his Second Amendment rights under these provisions. As the Supreme Court noted in Bruen, “[t]he Second Amendment is the very product of an interest balancing by the people, and it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms for self-defense.” Bruen, 142 S. Ct. at 2131 (internal quotation marks omitted). Nor would remedies at law suffice to repair this harm. Defendants have applied subsections (a)(2) and (a)(9) to deny Srour a shotgun or rifle permit, and the Court cannot discern from the record any reason to believe that Defendants will not continue to enforce those unconstitutional provisions going forward in the absence of equitable relief. Relatedly, district courts around the country have found permanent injunctions to constitute appropriate relief for violations of Second Amendment rights stemming from unconstitutional state statutes,” the ruling read.
“For reasons discussed, the Court grants in part Srour’s requested declaratory relief, declaring that subsections (a)(2) and (a)(9) of New York City Administrative Code Section 10-303 are facially unconstitutional. The Court also grants injunctive relief with respect to subsections (a)(2) and (a)(9) of New York City Administrative Code Section 10-303, and permanently enjoins Defendants from enforcing those subsections. The Court sua sponte stays the injunction until midnight on October 26, 2023 to afford Defendants an opportunity to consider their appellate options and whether they wish to seek a stay pending any appeal,” the ruling stated.
A federal judge on Tuesday struck down recent provisions in New York City’s gun restrictions as unconstitutional, saying officials have been allowed too much discretion to deny gun permits to people deemed “not of good moral character.” Link: https://t.co/j5gNWIZaNb
— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) October 25, 2023
The Reload noted:
The decision, which is likely to be appealed by city officials, may result in more residents of the nation’s largest city being able to legally arm themselves. It also represents the continuing fallout from a landmark gun case ruling handed down by the Supreme Court last year.
The City’s regulations share a distinct similarity to those in a state law that was at issue before the Court in last year’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen decision. Like the New York City ordinances struck down Tuesday, that case dealt with a process that gave licensing officials subjective discretion to deny gun-carry permits to applicants they determined didn’t have “proper cause” to need a license. The nine justices struck that law down as unconstitutional before establishing a new history-based test gun regulations must clear to be valid.
Judge Cronon, a Donald Trump appointee, drew a comparison to New York’s unconstitutional gun-carry law in his analysis of New York City’s current possession permit scheme. He said the similarities were legally problematic for the City’s defense.Advertisement
“The Challenged Firearms Provisions empower a City licensing official to decide not to issue a permit or license for a firearm based on that official’s discretionary assessment of the applicant’s ‘good moral character’ and the determination of a vaguely defined presence of ‘good cause,’” he wrote. “Much like the ‘proper-cause’ inquiry invalidated in Bruen, permitting denial of a firearms license based on a government official’s ‘good moral character’ or ‘good cause’ assessment has the effect of ‘prevent[ing] law abiding citizens with ordinary self defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.’”
Cronon then turned to potential historical analogues cited by the City as justification for its gun-permitting restrictions. The City cited Founding-era laws denying arms rights to groups it said were deemed “dangerous or potentially dangerous,” such as slaves, Native Americans, and persons who would not take loyalty oaths. Cronon rejected the comparisons.
Read the full ruling HERE.