Left lashes out after judge guts NY's latest gun control laws

(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

As expected, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and other officials have appealed yesterday’s decision by a U.S. District Judge granting a temporary restraining order against many components of the state’s new “Concealed Carry Improvement Act,” with Attorney General Letitia James lashing out at the judge and vowing to “fight for the safety of every New Yorker” by, uh, making it nearly impossible for them to legally bear arms in self-defense.

Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams sounded that same off-key note about protecting the public by depriving them of their ability to protect themselves.

New York authorities blasted Judge Suddaby’s ruling. In a statement, Gov. Kathy Hochul said that it was “deeply disappointing that the judge wants to limit my ability to keep New Yorkers safe and to prevent more senseless gun violence.” Mayor Eric Adams of New York City said that the order would make “it harder for us to protect New Yorkers.” And the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, pledged to appeal.

Other progressives seem to be a little confused about what the judge’s ruling means.

Just to be clear, since Mark Joseph Stern is apparently befuddled, what Judge Glenn Suddaby actually said is that the state of New York cannot mandate that guns be banned in daycares or childcare facilities. Private property owners, including daycare providers, can still declare their facilities “gun-free zones” if they wish, and my guess is that the vast majority of daycares will do so. But New York’s sweeping list of “sensitive places” removed that discretion from many private property owners, and made all private property “sensitive places” by default; something that the judge says has no analogue in nearly 250 years of this country’s history.

But Stern’s premise is also fundamentally flawed. If we want to protect our kids as much as we protect our judges, then why isn’t Stern demanding metal detectors and armed security at every daycare center in the nation? It’s not a sign that says “no guns allowed” that serves as the only security in courthouses, after all. Yet that’s exactly what Stern apparently believes would serve as effective security for childcare facilities.

The gun control lobby is also predictably freaking out, with Eric Tirschwell, who heads up Everytown’s in-house law firm, calling Suddaby an “activist judge” who’s attempting to “undermine New York’s effort to protect public safety by keeping guns out of the subways, playgrounds, and other sensitive public locations.” The problem, of course, is that New York isn’t keeping guns out of those locations. It’s only preventing law-abiding citizens from defending themselves in the vast majority of publicly-accessible places.

To be fair, anti-gun activists have good reason to gnash their teeth and pull their hair over Suddaby’s ruling on Thursday. His opinion is just a sign of what the future holds in store for their plans to criminalize the right to keep and bear arms.

“This opinion is a signal to all the states enacting gun laws that the chances of those laws surviving in court are slim,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in constitutional law and gun policy. “It’s really a signal that courts are prepared to strike down many more gun laws than ever before.”

He added: “A case like this, even if it’s not the final word, encourages people across the country to challenge gun laws in search of a similar victory.”

As well it should, and frankly, it’s a pretty target-rich environment for lawsuits right now.

So what happens next? Well, the state’s notice of intent to appeal has already been filed, and the appeal itself must be handed over to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals by the close of business next Tuesday. The Second Circuit doesn’t have to accept the appeal, by the way. It could turn it down and allow Suddaby’s ruling to take effect without hearing arguments, though Winkler expects the court to accept the case and issue a stay; something that attorneys for Gun Owners of America (who brought the suit alongside several individual plaintiffs) say they would appeal on an emergency basis to the Supreme Court.

I suspect that Winkler is right about what the Second Circuit will do, which means that New York’s post-Bruen gun laws could be making an appearance at the Supreme Court far sooner than Hochul and her anti-gun allies were hoping for. Their entire strategy since the Court invalidated the state’s “may issue” carry laws has been to put up as many barriers to the right to bear arms as possible; not just treating the Second Amendment as a “second class right” (in the words of Justice Clarence Thomas) but as an outright wrong that should be subject to prosecution and imprisonment. Even if the Second Circuit is willing to play along, I doubt that SCOTUS will do the same.