NY gun group preps for legal fight over new carry restrictions

Fresh off their victory at the Supreme Court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruenthe NYSPRA and New York gun owners have been confronted with a host of new gun control restrictions hurriedly approved by the Democratic-controlled legislature at the behest of Gov. Kathy Hochul. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, the group’s executive director Tom King sits down with me to discuss the coming court fight over New York’s refusal to recognize the right to bear arms in self-defense, and why he’s confident that many of these new laws will soon fall.

King says that attorneys for the group are already poring over the text of the new laws, which take effect on September 1st, and will move to strike down or at least suspend enforcement of the challenged provisions as soon as possible. King says it might take a little time, however, because he wants to ensure that they’re bringing the strongest case possible against the state and not just throwing out every potential legal argument in the hopes that one will stick.

While King didn’t get into the specifics of what the legal challenge will look like, he did tell me that one of the many measures that the group intends to challenge revolves around the sweeping “sensitive places” established by Democrats, which includes virtually all private property and businesses unless (in some circumstances) the property owner “opts in” to allowing law-abiding citizens to bear arms on the premises.

Not only does that fly in the face of the Supreme Court’s opinion, which specifically warned against trying to make, for instance, the entirety of the island of Manhattan a “sensitive place”, even accidentally bringing a gun into a “gun-free zone” would be a felony offense under Hochul’s new laws. That standard is unheard of in other states, where a violation is typically a misdemeanor or a citation-level offense, and for good reason. When we have a general right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense, as the Supreme Court affirmed in the Bruen decision, the laws should reflect that, but New York’s new law goes out of its way to ensure that even a minor and unintentional infraction results in prison time and a lifetime prohibition on gun ownership. This isn’t designed to enhance public safety. As Jacob Sullum at Reason argues, it’s meant to depress the number of people exercising their right to bear arms by making them terrified of the legal consequences for doing so.

Any license holder who wants to take advantage of his newly granted permission to carry a handgun for self-defense will have to think long and hard about whether he might enter or traverse any of those locations after leaving home. And if he specifically wants to protect himself or others while attending church, riding public transportation, visiting Times Square, or engaging in the many other activities that the state has deemed inconsistent with possessing a gun, he will have to recognize that he is risking a felony charge that could upturn his life and send him to prison.

The same law contradictorily states that owners of “private property” may choose to allow guns, provided they post notices to that effect. But that is plainly not true if the private property happens to fall into one of the categories defined as “sensitive locations.”

Hochul says the law “makes ‘no carry’ the default for private property, unless [guns are] deemed permissible by property owners.” That policy, she claims, “gives power to business and property owners to decide whether or not they want guns in their establishments, which could include bars, restaurants, shops or grocery stores.” But the state has already made that decision for restaurant owners with liquor licenses, and bar owners likewise will not have a choice in the matter unless they operate one of those rare taverns that do not serve alcoholic beverages. The state likewise is overriding the discretion of property owners who show movies, present plays, host concerts or games, display art or animals, let people gamble, educate or edify them, etc.

Yep. In fact, one armed citizen who’s been protecting his local synagogue says Hochul’s new laws will now prevent him and others from doing so in the future, because houses of worship are not allowed to authorize concealed carry on their property.

Scott Noren, an Ithaca resident, used to legally conceal and carry a weapon in the synagogue he worships in, which made him feel safer.

He feels that the rights of the synagogue itself to provide a secure, safe environment have been upended by this new legislation.

“To not have that option of having something there to protect yourself, it’s minutes before the police are going to arrive, and you gotta have some kind of security plan,” said Noren.

Hochul’s security plan is “run away if you can” and “hope for the best if you can’t”. Not only is that entirely unsatisfactory to folks like Scott Noren, it’s completely unconstitutional based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen. We’ll be keeping our eyes out for the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association’s legal response to these new 2A infringements, which King says will be coming “sooner rather than later.” The new laws are set to take effect on September 1st, and my guess is we’ll be looking at multiple lawsuits filed by a number of Second Amendment organizations in the next few weeks.