A federal judge in New York blocked much of the state’s restrictive concealed carry law passed earlier this year.
In a lawsuit brought by a group of New York state gun owners, Northern District of New York Judge Glenn T. Suddaby ruled Thursday that much of the state’s “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” violates the Supreme Court’s orders in NY State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, and by extension, the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers. Suddaby blocked much of the law from taking effect, but he gave New York state officials three days to appeal the ruling before it takes effect.
First, the ruling struck down the law’s requirement that a person must have “good moral character” to obtain a concealed carry permit. In his opinion, Suddaby blasted the restrictions for severely curtailing New Yorkers’ Second Amendment rights. “In essence, New York State has replaced its requirement that an applicant show a special need for self-protection with its requirement that the applicant rebut the presumption that he or she is a danger to himself or herself, while retaining (and even expanding) the open-ended discretion afforded to its licensing officers,” Suddaby wrote in the opinion.
“Simply stated, instead of moving toward becoming a shall-issue jurisdiction, New York State has further entrenched itself as a shall-not-issue jurisdiction. And, by doing so, it has further reduced a first-class constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense… into a mere request (which is burdened with a presumption of dangerousness and the need to show ‘good moral character’).”
While it struck down the “good moral character” requirement, the decision upheld other requirements to obtain a concealed carry permit. Suddaby upheld the requirement that applicants submit four character references, but struck down other requirements for contact information from the applicant’s spouse and family, as well as the requirement to disclose all social media accounts; Suddaby especially pointed out pseudonymous social media accounts, citing the example of pseudonyms used to protect identities in publishing and the press.
He also upheld a provision letting licensing officers procure “other information” in license applications, on the grounds that such information is very limited in scope; he also opened the door to revisiting that provision at trial. He also upheld the requirement that applicants receive 18 hours of firearms training. However, he blocked the requirement to meet in-person with a licensing officer before receiving a concealed carry permit.
Suddaby also struck down many of the “sensitive locations” where the law bans carrying firearms, writing that state officials “have simply not met their burden of ‘sift[ing] the historical materials for evidence to sustain New York State’s statute.’”
He upheld bans on carrying a firearm at government buildings, polling places, public areas temporarily restricted by a government entity, schools, and protests and other constitutional assemblies. He also upheld a ban on carrying in places of worship, but made an exception for “those persons who have been tasked with the duty to keep the peace” at such places.
However, he blocked the state from banning firearms on public transportation; at amusement parks, entertainment venues, and places where alcohol is served; in Times Square; at health care, behavioral health, or drug dependency care centers; libraries, public playgrounds, public parks, and zoos; child and family services centers and child care centers like daycares; summer camps; centers for the developmentally disabled; addiction centers; mental health centers; disability centers; domestic violence and emergency shelters; and residential properties, except for fenced-in farmland or hunting ground.
Suddaby issued a temporary restraining order blocking the law being enforced pending a hearing later this month for a preliminary injunction; he gave state officials three days to file an appeal with the Second Circuit before the order takes effect.