Why New York Gun Case Before SCOTUS Really Matters

Why New York Gun Case Before SCOTUS Really Matters
(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

One of the more interesting people I can think of in media is John Stossel. Back in the day, he worked for 20/20, a major mainstream media news show. He’s not the kind of guy I thought would eventually make pro-gun points.

However, because of his work on 20/20, he came to see some of the problems that spun from Big Government. He became a libertarian and eventually started contributing to Reason.

Now, he has some thoughts about the New York state gun licensing case before the Supreme Court, and there’s something here we all need to pay attention to.

Would carrying a gun make you feel safer?

Robert Nash and Brandon Koch thought so. But the state of New York denied them gun permits, saying they hadn’t demonstrated a “special need.”

Why did they have to prove such a “need”? The Supreme Court ruled more than 10 years ago that all Americans have a right to keep and bear arms, no matter where they live.

“Many other courts have thumbed their nose at that Supreme Court ruling,” Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation tells me. He’s excited that the Supreme Court will soon rule on Nash and Koch’s lawsuit over New York’s law.

I understand Nash and Koch’s frustration. I once tried to get a carry permit in New York.

First, I had to read 60 pages of instructions about irrelevant things like “metal knuckle knives” and “kung fu stars,” fill out a confusing 17-page form, get it notarized, and then go in person to police headquarters.

So far, nothing big, right? OK, so Stossel tried to get a permit. So what? So have a lot of other people.

Plus, we already know about this. Stossel isn’t breaking new ground with any of this.

Don’t worry, though. He will.

There they fingerprinted me, demanded reasons why I should be allowed to have a gun, and charged me $430.

I heard nothing from them for half a year. Then they wrote me saying that my application was “denied.”

I called to ask if I could appeal. They said I could try again if I could prove that “special need” to carry a gun. After years of confronting crooks on TV, I actually do have a special need for self-protection. I showed the cops threats on my life.

Not good enough, said the NYC permit department. They turned me down again.

In other words, a well-known journalist with actual death threats against him couldn’t get a permit to carry a concealed firearm in the state of New York.

If he couldn’t get one, what hope does anyone else have of getting one?

Oh, some people do, but how many of them are politically well-connected? How many have paid off those responsible for approving permit applications, such as what happened in New York City?

Honestly, that’s the problem with permitting processes that require someone to submit a need to carry a firearm. At best, it becomes subjective. At worst, it opens the entire system up for corruption.

Stossel is a journalist who spent a fair bit of his career calling out corruption among the corporate elite. He has had his life threatened, which I have no doubt about. Just how is anyone supposed to top that degree of need?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure a few actually do. The thing is, it shouldn’t matter. Our right to keep and bear arms isn’t to be infringed. Requiring someone to show a need or else they can’t bear arms sure as hell sounds like infringement to me.

Luckily, this case is before the Supreme Court. Many think we’ll see constitutional carry handed down by the Court. I’m more skeptical. I think we’ll definitely see the end of requirements like this. We might even see the Courts rule that shall issue is the most states can do.

Regardless, the case matters because I can’t imagine how many others got death threats but were told by the state of New York that their lives just aren’t a good enough reason to be permitted to carry a gun.

More importantly, how many of them died because they couldn’t?