Second Circuit judge keeps NY gun laws in effect for now

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

New York’s latest gun control laws can still be enforced, at least for a few more days, after a federal appellate judge on Wednesday issued a stay on a temporary restraining order issued by U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby last week. While anti-gun politicians like Letitia James and Kathy Hochul are cheering yesterday’s decision, the future of their latest infringements on the right to carry is still very much in doubt.

The next step for the TRO is a ruling by a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit, which could overturn the stay and allow the TRO to take effect or uphold the stay, at which point the plaintiffs have said they will ask the Supreme Court to step in. While that portion of Antonyuk v. Hochul is making its way up the judicial ladder, Judge Suddaby has scheduled a hearing for October 25th on the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction that would also block enforcement of some or all of the Concealed Carry Improvement Act.

It’s a little confusing to be sure. In fact, Gov. Hochul herself doesn’t seem to have a firm grasp on what yesterday’s decision really means.

“The interim administrative stay of the district court’s temporary restraining order is an important and appropriate step and affirms that the Concealed Carry Improvement Act will remain in effect during the appeals process,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “My top priority will always be to keep New Yorkers safe, and we will continue working with the Office of the Attorney General to defend our gun safety laws.”

No, yesterday’s decision does not affirm or guarantee that the CCIA will remain in effect throughout the appeals process. The request for a temporary restraining order was just the first step towards blocking enforcement of New York’s new concealed carry restrictions, and it’s still possible that a three-judge panel on the Second Circuit will allow the TRO to take effect. But yesterday’s decision has no impact on the pending hearing on an injunction to halt enforcement of the CCIA, and given Suddaby’s previous opinion that much of the CCIA is unconstitutional, I’d say the odds are good that he’ll find in favor of the plaintiffs not long after the October 25th hearing.

Of course, Suddaby could also stay that decision and allow the state to appeal it as well, which would give the Second Circuit another opportunity to let the laws remain in place while the case is being litigated. So yes, it’s possible that one day Hochul will have something to really cheer about, but her celebratory statement yesterday was premature, at least from a factual standpoint. For a gubernatorial candidate facing the voters in just a few weeks, however, it makes sense to put as positive a spin as possible on yesterday’s news, even if that means inflating its ultimate importance.

While the CCIA remains in effect for now, that doesn’t mean that every county in New York is going to be looking hard for lawbreakers. As we’ve previously reported, a number of law enforcement officials say they have no plans or desire to aggressively enforce any of the CCIA provisions, regardless of the current legal status of the laws. Hochul may have gotten a temporary reprieve from the Second Circuit on Wednesday, but the fight over her unconstitutional infringements on the right to bear arms is still far from over.