Liberty, New York City, and the subway

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Last week I found myself being brought into New York City to celebrate a family member’s birthday. Truth be told, the last time I was in “the City” was last summer when the same family member, who is NYC obsessed, wanted to take a bite of the Big Apple. New York has been through some changes over the years and I’m increasingly finding the past to have relevance in the present. The elephant in this room, or crossing the Brooklyn Bridge in this case, is what fate will our Second Amendment right have in a post NYSRPA v. Bruen world?

My experiences with Manhattan somewhat chronicle and emulate modern perception. The first time I visited the City would have been smack dab in the middle of the 80’s, as a child. My father spent most of his career working in New York and that dynamic brought us there a lot.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, New York was a violent cesspool. The violence of New York was such that my father was compelled to carry a .38 Special Colt Cobra revolver in a chest rig through most of that time period when he was in the City.

By the time the mid to late 90’s and 2000’s rolled around, New York was not only one of the safest places to visit, but it was also a pleasant place to go. Off and on, I found myself being brought to New York for both work and pleasure. My first occupational connection to NYC was in 2001 working for a ferry company bringing commuters back and forth from Jersey to Pier 11 (the foot of the World Trade Center) and East 35th street. I never felt unsafe or unsure about being in the City then. One job I had in 2004 I found myself flawlessly navigating my way from Pennsylvania Train Station to and through the subway system, without giving my safety a thought. New York was like this for many years, and it was not until recent memory that New York seems to be slipping backwards rapidly.

The most memorable thing about going to New York last summer and my subsequent trip last week was how filthy it’s become and the fact that you can’t go anywhere without smelling weed. Personally, I’m not a prohibitionist when it comes to the smoking of weed. It’s not my thing, but I’m not going to stand in the way of someone else wanting to take part in a little puff puff give. My issue is multifold though.

Across the nation, we were sold lies. When I was in Seattle in 2016, a real disgusting gutter of filth and progressive failures, everywhere I went I smelled weed as well. When these jurisdictions began to remove local support on the enforcement of federal law and removal of state prohibitions on weed, the public was told it would be regulated like alcohol. People were not supposed to toke up in public. Not working out so well for those of us who don’t want to smell it, is it?

The same cities and jurisdictions that have removed prohibitions on cannabis are similarly against tobacco consumption and the Second Amendment. New Jersey, for example, is so bad that  they have a “clean air” law that if a person were on state land, by themselves in the woods hunting, they would be breaking the law if they were using chewing tobacco. I’m not advocating for big tobacco here by any stretch of the imagination, however I will draw the ironic parallel that the nanny states like New York and New Jersey are okay with weed being consumed in public, against the promise that the practice would not be allowed. But, a guy with a cigar would be attacked by a gaggle of over caffeinated Karens hurling to-go mochachinos at anyone offending their fresh air/safe space, and then be cited with a ticket.

If you want to smoke weed, I welcome it, but not in my face or the face of my family, thank you. Where are the clean air laws here?

This all came into full focus while standing in Times Square looking for the Naked Cowboy on my family member’s birthday. The NYC obsessed family member also has a thing for the Naked Cowboy. Honestly, who doesn’t? Mr. Cowboy himself was not present, but we watched some other street performers. As they set up the show, a guy and his family stumbled into our group, exhaling a big misty cloud of burnt Mary Jane. I packed up myself and moved upwind to not have to deal with the smoke. I then thought to myself, this guy is here breaking the law. I’m sure it’s just a ticketed offense, but none-the-less, he’s breaking the law. What if I wanted to carry a firearm in the City to protect myself? Something enumerated in the Constitution.

The other elements that stuck out during my recent ventures into the Big Apple include an increase in the presence of homeless people, trash and garbage everywhere, police presence noted, but often gathered in small groups chewing the fat, and the number of people that were visibly tweaking on something. Regardless of the awful state that New York City is slipping back into, no law should infringe on my right to carry a firearm there if I want to.

I contemplated this while riding the subway.

Descending into the subway in 2022 you’ll be greeted with graffiti, trash, and people of questionable psychological status. The actual subway car was not a complete filth pit, at least the several ones I rode on in my two days there were not. Erratic people babbling, yeah, there were plenty of weirdos. Thinking about the abysmal state that New York is returning to and paired with the recent act of domestic terrorism on the subway, I thought about how we’re all fish in a barrel. Not much has really changed in the years, other than policy shifts allowing crime to proliferate again to levels not seen in decades. The day to day visitor to, or resident of New York is defenseless.

Had someone been armed on the subway when the Brooklyn subway terrorist opened fire on the unsuspecting public, would they have been able to halt the attack sooner than when it ended? There are a pile of what-ifs that we can rundown. The only fact we have is that people would have a fighting chance, not a guarantee of safety. All day, every day, I opt for the chance to have safety, versus the promise of being at a disadvantage while disarmed.

In the winter of 1984 a man was compelled to resort to self-defense on a New York City subway. The story of Bernhard Goetz has echoed for decades, and in my opinion is as relevant now as it was at the time. Regardless of one’s own feeling or thoughts on the Goetz case, the man acted in a manner that he reasonably believed to be self-defense, and was found to be not guilty on the multiple counts of attempted murder by a jury of his peers. The Goetz case painted a bigger picture than just the former attacks he suffered and the attack he staved off when he defended himself. Like today, the case highlights quite clearly the failure of policy in how many cities did/do their policing and handled the criminal element. In 1984 people were defenseless and nearly 4 decades later, the same people that got shot up on the subway in Brooklyn were also defenseless.

We’re waiting on an opinion to come any day now, by summer’s eve for sure, on NYSRPA v. Bruen and the topic of subways did come up during the arguments last November. I covered some of this previously over at AmmoLand News:

The violence perpetrated on a New York subway points to the failures of New York’s policy in not allowing normal everyday citizens to be armed. Would it have been a foregone conclusion that the domestic terror attack would have not occurred or stopped sooner had there been armed citizens in the area? No. However, it’s also not out of the question. The dynamic being discussed here is nothing new, even from justices themselves during the arguments of NYSRPA v. Bruen. Alito had the following to say:

None of these people has a criminal record. They’re all law-abiding citizens. They get off work around midnight, maybe even after midnight. They have to commute home by subway, maybe by bus. When they arrive at the subway station or the bus stop, they have to walk some distance through a high-crime area, and they apply for a license, and they say: Look, nobody has told — has said I am going to mug you next Thursday. However, there have been a lot of muggings in this area, and I am scared to death. They do not get licenses, is that right?

Further on in the parley between Underwood (in defense of NY’s unconstitutional law) and Alito, Alito asserted:

But the people — all — all these people with illegal guns, they’re on the subway…– they’re walking around the streets, but the ordinary hard-working, law-abiding people I mentioned, no, they can’t be armed?

What does Goetz have to say about the recent act of terrorism on the subway? I had a chance to chat with Goetz a bit the other day. A whole host of things came up in our discussion and our correspondence back and forth. One of the things that we talked about on the record was the shooting in Brooklyn. He had the following statement to make:

Gun restrictions would have done zero to prevent the Brooklyn subway shooting. In fact it was the left anti-gun people who helped cause it by constantly encouraging black racial resentment. In NYC everyone is pussyfooting around the motivation of the Brooklyn subway shooter.

Goetz is right in that gun restrictions, further, and obviously the current ones, do nothing to stop these kinds of events. Far left progressive policies have created so much harm and are to blame for people’s inability to defend against these situations.

What’s this all mean? It means that today if I were to be on the prowl in Times Square looking for the Naked Cowboy, open carrying a pistol and smoking a cigar, I’d most certainly be arrested for the gun and ticketed for smoking, in addition to being pelted with coffee drinks by the Karens, while being surrounded by some people smoking pot. 

In a post NYSRPA v. Bruen world, I don’t expect people being allowed to open carry in the Big Apple, but I do suspect the peasants of the city will be eventually afforded the same level of rights that the Gentry have, and will be able to have a firearm for self-defense.

If the high court finds New York’s law unconstitutional, Goetz could possibly have his own criminal record reversed. Through Goetz’s own admission in the December 31st, 1984 recorded interview in Concord, New Hampshire, he did apply for and get denied a permit in New York prior to him using a firearm for self-defense. Had the City not denied Goetz his right to bear arms, a firearm possession charge would have never stuck (the only thing he was found guilty of – the exercise of a constitutional right). Countless other victims of New York’s draconian laws and awful policies may have the chance to have their records potentially wiped cleaned.

As the City continues to crumble, a favorable opinion would mean at least the unwashed masses could have a fighting chance when it comes to dealing with the criminal element in Manhattan, and the rest of the country. But until we know our fate…the fate of the Second Amendment; as always still keep up your guard, watch your six if you’re using tobacco in public, and be mindful of the Karens.