New York City has one of the most ridiculously draconian carry regimes in the country. Though there are more than 8-million residents in the five boroughs, there are only about 30,000 carry licenses that are currently active, and the NYPD licensing bureau routinely rejects both new applicants and those trying to renew their permits.
That’s what happened to New York attorney Max Leifer, who’s speaking out after losing his ability to legally carry a gun after he maintained an active permit for 47 years. Though the attorney’s been carrying since 1973, when he tried to renew his permit recently the NYPD licensing division shut him down.
The NYPD claims Leifer, 75, did not fully cooperate with its investigator by failing to produce, among other things, “three months of bank statements and the corresponding deposit slips, and documentation of being in extraordinary personal danger.” He admittedly snarked that the NYPD was acting like the IRS.
The NYPD concluded, “the activities which justified granting a Business Carry License in the past, do not exist anymore. You no longer carry or transport cash. You no longer transact business involving expensive watches and artifacts. You no longer collect rent from rental properties. This amounts to a change in circumstance.”
Leifer called the scandal-scarred License Division “a joke.”
“They intentionally do not want to give licenses. Contrary to the second amendment where a citizen should be able to have a gun in his home or business,” he said. “Meanwhile, all these maniacs are running around with unlicensed guns and shooting everybody in the street. Every day you have a shooting, a killing.”
Yeah, you read that right. In order for Leifer (or anyone else) to exercise their right to bear arms in the Big Apple, he was supposed to turn over months worth of his financial statements in order for the Licensing Division to decide whether or not he really needed to be able to carry a gun for his own personal safety. That’s in addition to the character references and other hoops that the licensing division makes applicants jump through.
Leifter’s now suing the NYPD over his denial, but I highly doubt that he’s going to find any justice in the Manhattan Supreme Court. After all, the city’s restrictive policies have been in place for decades now, and the local court system doesn’t seem to see any problem with treating the right to bear arms as a privilege to be handed out by the NYPD Licensing Division, even though the department has been rocked with scandals in recent years over charges that officers accepted cash and gifts in exchange for granting permits to applicants.
“There has undoubtedly been a change in policy over the issuance of carry handgun licenses, since the shakeup from the public corruption scandal,” said Manhattan attorney Fred Abrams, who has been handling gun permit issues for 30 years. “The rules that guide the police department in these licenses have remained unchanged. People from all walks of life, who the license division deemed eligible for carry handgun licenses, suddenly are ineligible.”
Abrams said one of his clients, an auctioneer who handles over $1 million in cash annually, had an unrestricted business carry handgun license for decades. At last renewal, he was “given an ultimatum: accept a restricted license (valid only certain days, times and geographical locations) or get no license at all.”
The Post reports that even as the number of people applying for a carry permit soared in 2020, the number of approvals declined dramatically, to just 14-percent of applications. Frankly, those numbers don’t tell the full story, because most New Yorkers will never bother applying for a carry permit; either because of the high financial burden or because they know that they’re not going to be able to demonstrate some special need to carry and have no chance of getting approved.
While Leifer is pursuing his own case in the local courts, the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association is challenging the carry laws statewide in a case called NYSPRA vs. Corlett. The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider that case in conference on March 26th, and could announce whether or not it will take the case by the end of the month. A SCOTUS decision in Corlett could be the best chance for Leifer and other law-abiding residents of New York City to have their Second Amendment rights recognized. For now, however, the violation of their rights continues.
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