The Second Amendment clearly states that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. However, that simple phrasing has created so much debate for some reason. Over and over again, lawmakers create laws that clearly infringe on the right to keep and bear arms. Perhaps few do so as egregiously as “may issue” permitting laws.
Requiring people to get a permit simply to exercise a constitutionally protected right is bad enough, but “may issue” laws take that process and make it more onerous by adding the requirement that someone has to justify wanting a permit in order to be granted permission.
Now, New York’s “may issue” provision is facing a legal challenge by someone who was turned down for a carry permit.
Refused a permit was Robert Nash, who joined with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association — the NRA’s state affiliate — in filing a legal challenge against the state’s pistol permit laws and practice. Named as defendants in the suit are State Police Superintendent George Beech and state Supreme Court Justice Richard McNally, the latter of which refused to issue Nash a permit because, while the man passed the needed background checks, he could not show a “special need” to carry a firearm in public.
“New York’s law claims to be a licensing scheme, but because licenses are only granted to a tiny percentage of New York citizens who can demonstrate they face an immediate, specific threat, in practical effect the law operates for most New Yorkers as a flat ban on carrying firearms for self-defense,” said Tom King, NYSRPA president.
According to the filing, Nash, who has all the qualifications outlined by New York law to apply for a permit, tried to obtain one in Rensselaer County in 2014. After waiting seven months he was granted a license marked, “hunting, target only” which did not allow him to carry a gun in public for self-defense. Citing a string of robberies in his neighborhood as a good cause to carry, and showing he had completed advanced firearms training courses, Nash appealed to Justice McNally, the licensing officer for the county, to have the hunting and target restriction lifted. In 2016, McNally denied Nash’s request, saying that he did not “demonstrate a special need for self-defense that distinguished him from the general public.”
Recently, Washington, D.C.’s “May Issue” provision was overturned by a U.S. Federal Court. The city opted not to pursue it to the Supreme Court out of concern it would overturn such provisions nationally, which is fairly likely…if the Court opted to hear the case.
Unfortunately, the Court’s decision to not hear the case regarding Maryland’s assault weapon ban doesn’t fill me with hope that they would bother to hear a case on concealed carry or much else that deals with the Second Amendment. While the Second has been in a stronger position since the Court’s ruling on both the Heller and McDonald cases, the Court has refused to hear any other Second Amendment cases since then.
Still, even if this doesn’t go to SCOTUS, a ruling against New York’s licensing scheme would count as a big win for residents of the state and make scare other lawmakers into adjusting their own permit rules.