Why The Left Should Want NY's Gun Licensing Laws Overturned Too

(AP Photo/AJ Mast, File)

We know the reasons why conservatives want to see the Supreme Court lay waste to New York’s draconian carry regime; it’s unconstitutional and it prevents people from being able to exercise their right to bear arms. We also know why most folks on the Left are losing their minds over SCOTUS accepting a carry case; they’re afraid it will lead to a “guns apocalypse” with people carrying guns all willy nilly hither and yon.

Legal experts are issuing warnings after the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will take up a major Second Amendment case, its first in a decade – and warning of a “guns apocalypse” given the extremely conservative makeup of the Court.

“This case is likely to pave the way to the Supreme Court declaring a constitutional right to concealed public carry, overriding many state and local restrictions on the ability to bear concealed arms in public,” Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern writes.

In theory what that might mean is not only an explosion of people carrying guns, but people carrying guns that you cannot see – until it’s too late. It quite literally is the Republican Party’s dream.

It’s quite literally the law of the land in 42 states. Many of which are controlled by Democrats. For instance, when Illinois finally adopted its concealed carry law in 2013 (under threat of court intervention, it should be noted) it approved a “shall issue” law that issues licenses to all those who pass the required training and background check. There are only a handful of states that still maintain the discretionary “may issue” laws like New York’s, but you’d never know it from the breathless and mindless reporting and commentary from so many on the Left.

That’s a former federal prosecutor who’s now a talking head at MSNBC, who’s declaring that the Court is poised to strike down all training requirements for carry licenses, which isn’t even what this case is about. I suppose its possible that SCOTUS could mention something about extraneous training requirements that mandate hundreds of hours of training are also a violation of the right of citizens to bear arms, but I highly doubt they’re going to declare that states can’t set any sort of training requirement when it comes to issuing licenses.

The issue here isn’t about training requirements, but about the discretion given to judges and sheriffs in the state to determine whether someone who’s gone through all the required training and passed a background check has demonstrated “good cause” to receive their carry license. And Joyce Alene, who’s all in favor of police reform, probably doesn’t want to talk about keeping a system in place that grants sweeping powers to the police to decide who gets to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

I’ve been talking about the fact that gun control is at odds with the “reimagine policing” movement for about a year now, but this may be the issue that causes the Left to finally confront their internal contradiction: policing is bad, but creating more non-violent crimes is good.

This has already led to some absurd moments recently, like in Nevada, where anti-gun lawmakers are trying to expand the places where it’s illegal to carry, but making a violation a misdemeanor, which isn’t going to be much of a deterrent effect on anyone intending on committing a felony act of violence. They love the laws, but they don’t like to talk much about enforcement, because that involves policing, and that’s akin to being pro-fascist on the Woke Left these days.

Well, there’s no dancing around it this time. If you’re in favor of New York’s licensing laws, then you’re okay with giving the police the power to deny someone their ability to legally carry just because they don’t like the look of ’em. How many young black men who live in high crime neighborhoods in Albany or Newburgh are likely to get a concealed carry permit if they were to apply for one, you think? Now, you might not think they should be carrying a gun at all, but you’re not in their shoes, are you? And if someone wants to go through the process of becoming a legal gun owner and licensed concealed carrier, shouldn’t we be encouraging that?

Instead, New York makes it known that most people aren’t going to get a license, which means that many folks won’t even bother trying. At the same time, they may have their own compelling reasons for wanting to carry a gun in self-defense, including living in a neighborhood with a lot of crime. Some of these folks inevitably end up getting arrested and convicted for carrying a gun without a license, which in New York is punishable by up to 3 1/2 years in prison. As I’ve pointed out here on multiple occasions, when Slate‘s Emily Bazelon spent two months in a Brooklyn gun court a few years ago, she discovered that 70% of the defendants were young black men without any serious criminal history, whose only charge was carrying a gun without a license.

It seems to me that if you’re in favor of de-incarceration and reimagining policing, these types of discretionary-issue laws would be one of the first things you’d want to get rid of, especially since these types of laws are also used by the wealthy and powerful to obtain access to rights not available to the average citizen by bribing police. The New York Police Department itself was rocked with a scandal in its licensing division just a few years ago, but gun control advocates don’t want to change anything about this part of the NYPD.

What about Democrats more broadly? Are they ready to address the internal contradiction in their ideology, or will they keep trying to pretend that the criminal justice system is rife with racism, yet our gun control laws are colorblind and aren’t part of the problem they’re trying to solve? Will they continue to believe that the only true equality is if everyone equally disarmed, even if in reality that results in giving more power and authority to the systemically biased criminal justice system?

It’s really this simple: If you support these New York laws, you support putting more young black men in prison for carrying a gun without license that the state will never give them; not because they’re prohibited by law, but because New York believes they shouldn’t be trusted. You support keeping arms out of the hands of the working class, but the rich and connected can get a license with little problem, though they might have to pay under the table to seal the deal.

Is this a policy worth fighting for? Something worth defending? Even for those on the Left, there are plenty of reasons to be glad the Supreme Court has a chance to step in here. Let’s see if any will actually acknowledge them.