New York Moves to Nullify Supreme Court Decision Upholding Gun Rights
In an act of breathtaking defiance and spitefulness not seen since Southern states engaged in "massive resistance" to the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board decision, the New York State Legislature gave a middle finger to the Supreme Court and voted Friday to effectively nullify the Court's decision last week in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.
After an extraordinary session for the explicit purpose of defying the Court, Senate Bill S51001 was rammed through on a party-line vote by the Democratic supermajority, passed the Assembly, and received the signature of Gov. Kathleen Hochul.
Writing for the majority in Bruen, Justice Clarence Thomas struck down New York's century-old requirement that an applicant for a handgun carry permit demonstrate a "special need" if he wanted to carry for self-defense. New York's licensing process was entirely discretionary and arbitrary, and in many jurisdictions, licensing officers simply refused to issue permits for self-defense. This was particularly true in New York City, where applicants were routinely and summarily rejected unless they were politically connected or celebrities — such as Howard Stern, Donald Trump, and Don Imus. In other jurisdictions, licensing officers simply invented acceptable reasons on a whim, often issuing handgun licenses for "hunting and target shooting" only, if at all. (In one rural upstate county, a former judge who had authority as a licensing officer invented a requirement that he would not allow any permit-holder to have more than five handguns without appearing before him personally and giving a "good reason.")
In Bruen, Justice Thomas ruled that these arbitrary restrictions were unconstitutional and violated the Second Amendment's guarantee to keep "and bear" arms for self-defense, ordering New York State and New York City to issue concealed carry permits to qualified applicants for that reason.
In response, Gov. Hochul (who was endorsed by the NRA in 2012 when she ran for Congress in rural Western New York) vindictively declared that New York would restrict guns to the point where the State would "go back to muskets." Hochul called the Legislature back from recess and presented a bill that criminalizes as a felony offense concealed carry in perhaps 98% of the state.
Relying upon Justice Scalia's unwise choice of words in District of Columbia v. Heller, the bill defines nearly every public area except for a road or sidewalk a "sensitive area" where a permit holder is forbidden to carry concealed. All schools, hospitals, parks, zoos, libraries, churches, shelters, subways, trains, buses, airports, aircraft, airports, terminals, stations, stadiums, places of entertainment, theaters, museums, concerts, banquet halls, "special events" (such as parades), federal, state, county, and municipal property and places (including restaurants) that serve alcohol are forbidden. Times Square is specifically named as a forbidden zone.
In a truly bizarre and Kafkaesque clause that can only be characterized as the "BLM and Antifa Protection Act," it becomes a felony to possess any handgun, rifle, or shotgun during "any gathering of individuals to collectively express their constitutional rights to protest [sic] or assemble."
Beyond that, the law mandates that all private property (it does not make a distinction between commercial and residential) is assumed to be a prohibited zone unless the owner posts explicit signage allowing guns on the premises. It is a felony offense worth up to four years in prison to possess a handgun on private property that is not so indicated.
Because nearly all of the state is now defined as a forbidden zone except for public roadways and sidewalks, an individual who leaves a firearm in his vehicle is required to lock it in a fireproof and impact-proof vehicle safe or face a misdemeanor charge and up to a year in jail.
In true police-state fashion, current, off-duty, and retired police are the only persons granted exemptions from these restrictions.
Ironically enough, even politically connected and wealthy persons who were issued "unrestricted" self-defense licenses and could carry almost anywhere under the previous licensing regime (except schools, courts, and jails) will now find their ability to CCW eviscerated. Under the previous licensing scheme, even permit-holders with "restricted" licenses did not face criminal penalties if caught carrying outside the arbitrary restrictions — only suspension or revocation of license. Going forward, all violations of carry restrictions will become felonies. (A felony indictment results in immediate confiscation of all firearms, and a felony conviction results in disability to own firearms for life.)
In addition, the 42-page bill
- requires disclosure of all social media accounts, a police investigation, fingerprints, character references, and live-fire training and qualification for applicants. (It should be noted that New York's handgun licensing requirements apply not just to CCW, but to simple ownership in one's own home.)
- requires three-year renewal of licenses.
- requires State Police approval and registration of all ammunition purchases.
- requires a monthly police audit of every license-holder to see if a reason to revoke a license exists
- makes it a crime to purchase body armor
- requires an identical license to purchase any semi-automatic rifle, including .22s.
New York has made it clear that the Constitution does not apply within its boundaries, no matter what the Supreme Court says. As was the case after the Heller decision of 2008, the state's gun laws have actually become an order of magnitude more repressive following the legal "victory."
The State's actions confirm that the most seemingly paranoid fears about the true intentions of the gun-grabbers are quite well grounded in reality. The claim that the left seeks only "commonsense gun safety" is purely deceitful; the left will stop at nothing less than police-state disarmament, the Bill of Rights be damned.
Image: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York via Flickr, CC BY 2.0 (cropped).