NYC gun laws face new federal court challenge

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Gun owners in New York and New Jersey are mounting a new legal challenge to New York City’s bizarre and byzantine gun control regime, seeking to toss out the city’s prohibition on non-residents bearing arms and asking a U.S. District Court judge to appoint a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD’s licensing bureau to ensure that the department isn’t subjecting applicants to needless delays or worse.


As the plaintiffs lay out in their initial complaint, it’s taking years for the NYPD to approve (or deny) permit applications, including the paperwork required for legal gun owners to simply possess a firearm in the home. Stuart Meissner, for example, applied for a premises permit for a handgun and a shotgun back in September of 2021, but so far has only been approved for a permit to possess a shotgun in the home. And even with that approval, Meissner is unable to actually bring his shotgun to his New York City home, because while the NYPD licensing bureau has approved his permit, they’ve also refused his attempts to register the shotgun with the city as required by law. From the complaint:

In response to the shotgun application, the NYPD License Division requested a “Permit No Authorization”, and the seller’s signature on the Disposition Report Certification, and a bill of sale, from Mr. Meissner.

Mr. Meissner was able to track down his bill of sale and sent this to the NYPD License Division. The two firearms that Mr. Meissner owns were purchased several years ago from a store in Rockland County, New York. Upon reaching out to the original gun store where he purchased his firearms, Mr, Meissner was informed that the store does not give buyers an authorization number. The store also refused to go back through their records to find an authorization letter.

Mr. Meissner sent a letter to the NYPD License Division explaining this, and that he is prevented from bringing his firearms to his home, but the letter was ignored. The NYPD License Division Responded only by highlighting the areas of the application that needed to be filled out and returned the bill of sale. So, while Mr. Meissner was granted his license from the NYPD License Division, this means nothing as he is unable to register the firearm, and unable to get in contact with anyone in the NYPD License Division.


All this despite the fact that Meissner is not only free of any criminal history or other disqualifying factors, but is a former Assistant District Attorney in New York County and a former Assistant Attorney General in the NY AG’s office. The other three plaintiffs are also law-abiding citizens and legal gun owners whose firearms are kept beyond New York City’s borders, and plaintiffs attorney Peter Tilem argues that they too are being deprived of their fundamental rights under the Second and Fourteenth Amendments thanks to the city’s unreasonable delays in issuing permits and refusal to recognize any carry permits from other jurisdictions… even those issued in other New York counties.

New York City prohibits New York State residents with New York State issued carry licenses from entering any of the five boroughs. These licensed gun owners must apply for a separate license. This is unconstitutional, these gun owners should not be barred from entering an entire city.

Under the New York Concealed Carry Improvement Act (‘CCIA”) , concealed-carry of firearms has been banned in certain sensitive locations, These areas include, but are not limited to, schools, places used for performance art, Times Square, locations providing health care services, and public parks.

I’m so glad to see the city’s lack of reciprocity challenged here. As we’ve talked about before, none of our other constitutionally-protected rights stop at the state line, so why should our right to keep and bear arms vanish when we travel from one state (or in this case, one county) to another? Telim argues that New York City recognizes drivers’ licenses from all 50 states and even some foreign countries, yet gun owners must give up their right to keep and bear arms if they visit New York City.


Could you imagine if each State and more absurdly each City within each state required a separate Driver’s License? It would be almost impossible to drive across the United States without years of planning and applications to apply for driver’s licenses in each jurisdiction that a person would drive through.

The Defendant’s must give full faith and credit to the concealed carry licenses of other States and other Counties within New York State.

As for that federal monitor the plaintiffs hope to see installed, Telim notes that the NYPD Licensing Bureau has a history of scandalous pay-to-play behavior when it comes to issuing either premises or carry permits, with a number of officers charged and convicted on charges of conspiracy and extortion charges in between 2013 and 2016. The attorney argues that given the exceedingly long wait times his clients have been subjected to and the department’s troubled history, the only way to ensure that the department is actually respecting the rights of applicants is to ensure that there’s federal oversight throughout the application process.

If nothing else, the litigation may prompt the licensing division to finally issue permits to the named plaintiffs, if for no other reason than to moot their complaints. I doubt, however, that the city or state is going to revise its lack of reciprocity just because a lawsuit was filed, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the city tries to justify denying millions of visitors (and New York residents) access to their right to keep and bear arms simply because they don’t live in the “right” zip code.


Join the conversation as a VIP Member