Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in Albany doesn’t stay at the state capitol, especially when it comes to gun control legislation. Any restriction on the right to keep and bear arms approved in New York (and California, for that matter) is likely to be exported to other blue states, and a group of 15 Democratic Attorneys General is now helping to defend New York’s latest infringements in federal court in the hopes of putting or keeping similar laws in place on their home turf.
The AGs have filed an amicus brief with the Second Circuit in Antonyuk v. Nigrelli, both in support of the many “sensitive places” defined by the state of New York in the ironically named “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” and the draconian licensing procedures the state has put in place, which includes applicants having to provide police or judges with a list of all their social media accounts, character references, and a panoply of other mandates that seem designed to make it as difficult as possible to exercise a fundamental civil right.
They don’t make a great case, to be honest. Their argument basically boils down to “states need to be able to address public safety concerns, so any restrictions we want to put in place should be allowed to stand.” To buttress their point, the AGs point to several statutes on the books in places like Delaware, Georgia, and North Carolina that allow issuing authorities to approve or deny a license based on “good moral character;” ignoring the fact that many of those statutes are also facing scrutiny, either in the courts, state legislatures, or both.
The Democratic AGs also fail to find fault with any of New York’s “sensitive places” defined by the CCIA, claiming that the cornucopia of gun-free zones protects “uniquely vulnerable locations and populations.”
At issue in this case is the CCIA’s designation of various locations in New York, including theaters and banquet halls, establishments where alcohol is consumed, locations providing behavioral health services, and places of worship as sensitive places. These restrictions are a reasonable and appropriate response to the heightened threats caused by the presence of firearms in certain locations.
Without the power to institute such restrictions, New York and other states and localities would be left unable to effectively prevent gun violence in particularly dangerous places, around vulnerable populations, or where individuals are exercising other constitutionally protected rights, putting the public at risk.
Again, rather than actually defending New York’s law with any supposed historical analogs, the AGs merely provide a few anecdotes about “sensitive places” in states outside of New York; Florida’s prohibition on carrying in bars, bans on carrying on public transportation in D.C., and even bans on firearms in wildlife preserves in Montana and North Dakota. Nowhere, however, do the AGs provide any real comparison between those provisions and the numerous “sensitive places” designated by New York lawmakers, which include all private property by default, all houses of worship, all restaurants that serve alcohol (not just bars), but even public streets around places like Times Square.
As a legal argument, the amicus brief doesn’t do much to help New York. But from a public relations perspective, the AGs in D.C., Illinois, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands can now boast to their fellow gun prohibitionists that they’ve taken a stand in support of “reasonable” restrictions that in actuality turn a fundamental right into a felony offense.