A gun rights group filed a lawsuit on Wednesday that challenges New York’s restrictive firearm licensing scheme.
When Robert Nash applied for a concealed carry permit, New York’s pistol permit laws required that he prove he faced an immediate specific threat in order to carry a firearm outside the home for self defense.
Nobody can predict the future. If people knew exactly where and when, and could document every specific threat they faced before it arrived, they would be able to easily avoid those threats and rest at ease. We don’t live in the bizarre world of New York’s firearm licensing requirements, though.
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One obvious reason why people want to exercise their right to carry a firearm is because they don’t know if, when, or where they’ll have to use it.
Nobody should have to prove they’re in immediate danger in order to exercise their Second Amendment rights, but the state of New York sees things differently.
Now, Nash is joining with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, the state’s NRA affiliate, to challenge State Police Superintendent George Beech and state Supreme Court Justice Richard McNally, who refused to issue Nash a permit on the grounds that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual’s right to bear arms in public and Nash failed to demonstrate a “special need” to carry.
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“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 an 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.”
Challenges to so-called “good cause” requirements for concealed carry permits have resulted in a mixed bag of decisions in federal courts in recent years. While the U.S. 9th Circuit struck several strict “may-issue” policies in California in 2014, a larger panel reversed that decision in 2016, which was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., local officials threw in the towel last year when it came to defending their own “good reason” requirement which denied more licenses than were granted after suffering a string of setbacks in the court.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, called the latest lawsuit “disturbing, but not surprising that the mini-NRA is once again seeking to waste taxpayer money on a frivolous lawsuit to make New York less safe.”
Nobody has to prove that they “need” to exercise other freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, but New York seems to think the Second Amendment is different.
According to New York’s current licensing laws, a person should only be free to exercise their rights if they can prove they have some special “need” to do so.
That sort of logic is traitorous to to principals of any free people.
With any luck, the latest lawsuit will knock government officials in New York off their authoritarian pedestals and put them back into their roles as public servants, where they belong.
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