Lawsuit aims at NYC gun control laws

Last week we reported on a new lawsuit taking on both the ridiculously long wait-times in processing firearm permits and the lack of reciprocity in New York City, and I’m very pleased that attorney Peter Tilem could join me on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co to go into more detail about the litigation and why it’s necessary.


Tilem is currently representing four named plaintiffs in the suit; two New York residents suing over lengthy delays in processing their permit applications, and two New Jersey residents who are are suing over their inability to bear arms in New York City despite their valid New Jersey carry licenses, but as he explained, he’s hoping that the courts will certify his request for class-action status. That would allow the case to move forward even if the NYPD suddenly starts processing the applications of those who filed the initial complaint.

“First of all they [the defendants] are going to try to argue standing, second of all they’re going to try to moot the case. What we’ve done is we’ve filed this as a class-action lawsuit so even if they give the licenses to these two individuals we believe there are thousands of people standing behind them who’ve been waiting more than the six months New York requires who have not heard anything from the New York Police Department Licensing Division.”

Tilem says that since the lawsuit was filed he’s heard from “numerous” gun owners in similar holding patterns, with some of them waiting more than two years for the NYPD to approve or deny their permits. In fact, one of the remedies he’s requesting in the litigation is the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD’s Licensing Division in order to “ensure that there is no corruption or infringement upon the Constitutional rights of those seeking gun licenses.” The Licensing Division was a “bribery machine” just a few years ago, according to one former officer, and Tilem says that with the ironically-named “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” the NYPD still has far too much arbitrary authority to approve or deny permits, and the potential for abuse remains in place.


“New York City, for example, looks at things like your driving record, and will disqualify people based on things like dismissed arrests or a history of arrests that go nowhere. People are getting denied every day in New York City based upon the discretion of the Licensing Division,” Tilem says, arguing that this isn’t anywhere close to the “shall issue” regime that the Supreme Court envisioned when it struck down New York’s “may issue” licensing laws.

The other major component of the new litigation is a challenge to the lack of reciprocity in New York City. Not only are no other state’s carry licenses recognized in the five boroughs, even those who possess a valid carry license issued by a New York county beyond the Big Apple are unable to lawfully carry in the city. Tilem says one of the allegations he’s bringing against city officials is that they choose to recognize drivers’ licenses from all other jurisdictions, and yet a resident of Westchester County who possess a valid carry permit would be breaking the law if they drove just a couple of miles away and entered the Bronx. Tilem argues the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution should compel the city to recognize carry permits issued by other jurisdictions, and as I told him, I’m looking forward to seeing what, if any, historical evidence New York City is able to produce showing that its refusal to recognize the Second Amendment rights of non-residents is part of the Second Amendment’s history and tradition.


This will be an interesting case to watch as it moves forward, and I appreciate Peter Tilem spending a couple of minutes with me to discuss the lawsuit and the absolute insanity of New York’s gun control regimes. Check out our entire conversation in the video window above, and we’ll be talking with Tilem again in the near future once the city’s initial response has been submitted to the court.

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