Calling 911 could cause you to lose your guns in one New York county

Calling 911 could cause you to lose your guns in one New York county
(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane, File)

The good news for the woman in question is that the policy used to take her guns from her is so flagrantly unconstitutional that she should be able to find relief in the courts. The bad news, of course, is that a lawsuit takes time, and while she’s waiting for a judge to declare the actions of Nassau County police to be null and void she’s left not only defenseless, but deprived of an inherent civil right.

At issue is a little-known policy in Nassau County requiring all pistol permit holders to notify local police when they’ve been involved in any “incident where there is a police response.” Failure to do so within three days subjects the permit holder to revocation of their license and confiscation of their firearms, which is exactly what happened when Nassau County police realized one recent licensee neglected to report a recent 911 call she’d made.

It’s a ridiculous requirement to begin with, but it gets even worse, as John Crumpy recently detailed:

A woman living in the county, who doesn’t wish to be named, purchased a handgun right before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her long-time boyfriend had passed away, and she felt she needed to protect herself. That is when the problem with her next-door neighbor started. The neighbor living near her allegedly threatened to kill her and burn down her house.

Fearing for her life, she called 911. The Nassau County Police Department responded to the call and took care of the incident. She still feared for her life, knowing she would have to leave her home without her firearm. Then the Supreme Court issued the landmark Bruen decision that knocked down New York State’s “proper clause” statute that prevented most New Yorkers from getting concealed carry permits.

The woman decided to go ahead and apply for a permit despite some concerns about the constitutionality of several of the requirements. After spending hundreds of dollars on training, forking over the information about her social media accounts, and submitting character references to demonstrate she had the “good moral character” to carry a gun in self-defense, she instead found herself disarmed by the State.

During the background investigation, Nassau County investigators found the 911 call she made. They also found out she didn’t notify the NCPD Pistol License Section of the call she placed. There is a little-known regulation on the books in Nassau County that states that if you call 911, witness an incident that involves the police, or even just a third party to where a police action happens; you must notify the NCPD Pistol License Section within three days.

When the NCPD  found out that the woman seeking a concealed carry permit because she feared for her life didn’t notify the NCPD Pistol License Section of her 911 call, they promptly stopped the background investigation and suspended her pistol permit. They proceeded to confiscate her firearms, including her long guns.

Crumpy reports that the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association is aware of the woman’s decision but declined to comment based on the potential for pending litigation, which is another good sign. There’s no way on earth that this particular provision is going to be upheld by the courts, because there are no analogues to this bizarre ordinance to be found in U.S. history. Frankly, even under the two-step, tiered scrutiny test that the Supreme Court explicitly rejected in Bruen this particular ordinance should be tossed out because there’s no compelling government interest at stake here. Why is it so important that a gun owner alert police to the fact that they spoke to police about an accident they observed, or even a 911 call that they made? Specifically, why is this so important that they should lose access to their fundamental right to armed self-defense if they failed to do so?

This is what “commonsense gun safety laws” look like: because you didn’t tell us about a threat to your life, we’re going to take away your ability to defend yourself against that threat. Oh, and you can ask for your guns back in 6-to-8 months, but there’s no guarantee we’re gonna give ’em back to you.

For far too long the state of New York and its political subdivisions have been able to get away with treating the Second Amendment like the bastard stepchild of the Bill of Rights, and while the Bruen decision hasn’t put an end to their infringements it has at least laid the groundwork for the decisions to come; hopefully including an opinion declaring Nassau County’s policy to be a brazen and barefaced violation of the Constitution.

Honestly, though, this policy is so egregiously unconstitutional that Nassau County shouldn’t even waste its time or taxpayer money trying to defend it in court. Take the loss, remove the offending requirement (and any others that are designed to take away residents’ rights based on bureaucratic mandates), return the woman’s guns, and quit taking the advice of gun control advocates.

Think that’ll happen? Me either, though it would be simplest and best way to handle the situation. Instead, the county will undoubtably try to defend this unreasonable requirement in court, and will continue to enforce the policy until a judge orders them to stop… something that, with luck, we’ll see in the near future.