The Supreme Court received a flurry of friend of the court briefs in support of the right to carry this week, including a filing by a coalition of 26 Republican attorneys general, a Ted-Cruz led brief co-signed by 24 other GOP Senators, and a brief signed by 170 Republican House members that was put together by New York Rep. Claudia Tenney.
The amicus briefs were all filed in support of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association’s challenge to New York’s carry laws, which will be heard by the Court this fall. In advance of oral arguments, a large number of interested third parties are weighing in on New York’s restrictive gun licensing regime (on both sides of the issue), but frankly, with New York as one of only a handful of states with subjective “may issue” laws still on the books, both the numbers and logic are on the side of those hoping to overturn the restrictive statutes.
In their brief, the Republicans say New York’s rule “transforms a fundamental right guaranteed to the people into a special privilege to be enjoyed by only an elite few deemed worthy by a government official exercising unbridled discretion.”
Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin, who is running for governor, also signed the brief – potentially making this an issue in next year’s election.
Democrats overwhelmingly support the existing rules.
“It is our obligation, it is our duty to be advocating here today for this cause,” Zeldin said at the Tuesday event.
The only Republican member of Congress from New York not to sign on to Tenney’s amicus brief was Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, who said she hadn’t had a chance to read the amicus brief beforehand. Oddly, while Spectrum News asked the congresswoman about her absence from the brief, it doesn’t appear that they quizzed Malliotakis about her views on New York’s current carry laws.
The Senate GOP’s brief, meanwhile, argues that New York doesn’t have the authority under the Constitution to bar average citizens from bearing arms in self-defense.
“Legislators—whether in Albany or Washington D.C.—have neither the power nor the authority to second-guess the policy judgments made by the Framers and enshrined in the Constitution,” Cruz and his Republican colleagues wrote in the amicus brief.
“Firearms policy can be complex, and members of Congress, like state and local officials, may disagree vehemently,” they wrote. “But elected officials swear to support and defend the Constitution and so much respect when the Framers took a decision out of their hands.
“The Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms cannot be second-guessed by legislators across the country who simply disagree with the choice the Framers made,” they wrote.
As for the brief filed by Republican attorneys general; the coalition led by Arizona and Missouri AGs Mark Brnovich and Eric Schmitt documents several instances of New Yorkers being turned away from obtaining a carry license, even after demonstrating their “justifiable need” to do so.
“Law-abiding citizens should not require the consent of faceless bureaucrats to exercise their right to keep and bear arms,” Brnovich said in a Tuesday statement. “New York cannot override the Second Amendment or the natural right of self-preservation. I will continue to vigorously protect Americans’ constitutional rights.”
New York is one of just eight states that still require concealed carry applicants to document some type of special circumstance before a license is issued, as well as granting broad authority to sheriffs and county judges to deny applications based on their own subjective feelings about the suitability of the applicant. The vast majority of the country has adopted a “shall issue” standard over the past 30 years; you meet the statutory requirements and you shall be issued a carry license.
Additionally, 21 states have said that concealed carry licenses aren’t necessary in order for legal gun owners to lawfully carry a firearm for self-defense, though all of them continue to issue concealed carry licenses for those who want them. More than 20-million Americans possess a carry license, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center, but because some of the most populated states like New York and California still maintain “may issue” laws on the books, there are millions more who would like to carry but are denied their right to do so.
Coming up this afternoon on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’ll be taking a look at two more briefs filed on Tuesday. Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation joins the show to discuss the SAF’s brief, along with the filing by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (where, in full disclosure, I serve on the board of directors). It’s an exciting time for gun owners and Second Amendment advocates, and if you’re a 2A law geek like I am, you can check out all of the amicus briefs filed so far right here.