Without gun dealers, the Second Amendment protections we enjoy wouldn’t amount to all that much. After all, what good is the right to do something when you have no ability to exercise that right?
While an argument could be made that without gun dealers we’d all have to learn how to make them ourselves, the truth is that many people don’t have any interest or ability to do such a thing. Further, that’s not really how the Second Amendment works.
Dealers allow ordinary people to get firearms.
Yet dealers are the target of more gun control laws than I care to count, many of which impede their ability to do business.
As bad as that is, though, New York does everyone one better. In order to get a state gun dealer’s license, you have to meet specific criteria including having a brick-and-mortar store. It doesn’t matter what you want to sell or who you intend to sell to, you have to have a physical store.
And, as our own John Petrolino notes over at The Truth About Guns, that has landed them in court.
The New York court case that no one knows about right now is Cavalier Knight v. New York City. Knight’s cases first came to my attention in December of 2021. Knight and I chatted and he is one determined individual.
Knight is currently challenging New York’s requirement that a federally licensed gun seller has to have a brick and mortar location in order to get a state-issued Firearm Dealer’s License (FDL). Knight currently holds a valid FFL 01, however being a resident of New York City, he’s unable to conduct any transactions, even his intended limited purpose of sticking to commerce between himself and other FFLs through internet sales, and focusing on getting government contracts.
Knight has gone a few rounds with the City of New York and his most recent complaint filing was in January of 2023. When Knight began his fight against City Hall, he did it in a pre-Bruen world. At that time, Knight was also challenging New York’s requirement that he have a license to carry in order to get a state FDL.
It’s not likely that the city or state will be able to defend the restrictions, never mind the requirement that a seller of firearms needs a state license to conduct such business in the first place. There are no historical analogues that mention FFLs, or prohibit gun sellers from conducting business from their homes.
The technicality that New York uses to do away with so-called kitchen table dealers is something that’s entirely moot in a world where most commerce can be conducted virtually. It’s doubtful that in 1791 a gunsmith selling arms they built, lock, stock, and barrel, would be prohibited from doing so from their home. Many gunmakers likely had their shop on the same lot as their home.
It’s a pretty long piece, but John does a good job laying things out and you’ll find it interesting, so I invite you to go and check it out.
There are a lot of reasons to take the New York rules to task, though.
For example, they make it far more difficult for someone to start their gun dealing business by operating out of their home–they’d be required to comply with all regulations, mind you–until they had enough business to justify opening a brick-and-mortar operation.
People do this with all kinds of businesses, using their homes as their workplace until they can afford a dedicated place.
No, Knight has no interest in opening a physical location, but as a gun dealer, he doesn’t need one unless he wants to conduct local transfers, something he says he has no interest in doing.
And post-Bruen, there’s little chance they’ll be able to justify the restrictions. As John noted above, this probably wasn’t unusual in 1791 and there definitely aren’t any laws I’m aware of that would preclude what Knight wants to do.
Sure, there weren’t really a lot of internet businesses in the late 18th Century, but that’s neither here nor there. The law is the law and the court rulings are what they are.
Mr. Knight, who is representing himself, is right in what he wants to do and I wish him the best of luck.