A federal judge halted key provisions Thursday of New York’s latest attempt to restrict who can carry a handgun in public and where firearms can be brought, saying multiple parts of a law the state passed this year are unconstitutional.
US District Judge Glenn Suddaby focused on multiple parts of the law, saying licensing requirements — like a rule requiring applicants to turn over information about their social media accounts — went too far.
“Simply stated, instead of moving toward becoming a shall-issue jurisdiction, New York State has further entrenched itself as a shall-not-issue jurisdiction. And, by doing so, it has further reduced a first-class constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense … into a mere request,” wrote Suddaby, who sits in Syracuse.
The ruling would keep restrictions in place that bar firearms from being carried into schools, government buildings and places of worship, but the judge said the state couldn’t ban guns from other sensitive locations, such as Times Square.
The judge gave the state three business days to seek emergency relief before a federal appeals court.
The rules were part of a sweeping gun law that went into effect Sept. 1 designed to protect public safety while adhering to a US Supreme Court ruling that invalidated New York’s old system for granting permits to carry handguns outside the home.
The law increased training requirements for applicants and requires them to turn over more private information, including a list of everyone living in their home. Suddaby said the law’s requirement that a license applicant be of “good moral character” is unconstitutional, as currently written.
Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature approved the law this summer shortly after the high court struck down a state law that required people to demonstrate an unusual threat to their safety to qualify for a license to carry a handgun outside their homes. In a statement Thursday, the Democrat called the decision “disappointing.”
“In the wake of the Supreme Court’s reckless decision that reversed decades of established law amid a national gun violence crisis, the State Legislature and I acted decisively to keep New Yorkers safe. The Concealed Carry Improvement Act was carefully crafted to put in place common- sense restrictions around concealed carry permits,” Hochul said.
“While this decision leaves aspects of the law in place, it is deeply disappointing that the Judge wants to limit my ability to keep New Yorkers safe and to prevent more senseless gun violence,” she continued. “We are working with the Attorney General’s office to review the decision carefully and discuss next steps in an appeal. I will continue to do everything in my power to combat the gun violence epidemic and protect New Yorkers.”
There have been several federal challenges to the law from gun rights advocates who argue the legislation violates the Second Amendment and free speech rights.
This lawsuit was bought by six gun owners from upstate New York who claim the law infringes on their constitutional rights. Most of the plaintiffs have licenses to carry and argue the law keeps them from holding a weapon in designated sensitive places like state parks or church.
One plaintiff intends to apply for a carry permit but is unwilling to share social media posts or character references with investigators, according to the federal complaint.
New York is among a half-dozen states that had provisions of their gun laws invalidated by the Supreme Court.