With its New Gun Law, New York is Just Begging to Get Slapped Down

Every so often a problem child does something wrong just to get punished. Maybe it’s testing the limits to see where the boundaries are. But in the case of New York State, it appears to be much more malignant. Space prohibits an exhaustive review, but it’s quite certain that New York’s new gun law is an in-your-face, single-finger salute to the Supreme Court in response to the Bruen decision. It’s likely to get all the respect a parent should give to that misbehaving offspring.

SCOTUS said that NY was not allowed to demand “good cause” to get a permit. So, NY wrote the law to demand “good moral character,” instead. This new phrase is nothing more than a placeholder for “good cause” because the law says it means “having the essential character, temperament and judgment necessary to be entrusted with a weapon and to use it only in a manner that does not endanger oneself or others.” In other words, good cause.

The Constitution does not allow such a restriction. You are either a prohibited person (such as a convicted felon) or not. This new definition in NY law is the very definition of “arbitrary and capricious” in practice. It sounds neutral, but just as with “good cause,” if the reviewing officer doesn’t like you, your application is toast.

New York then goes on to list a host of “sensitive locations” in which guns are barred. The first is generally unobjectionable: government administration buildings. Then it goes downhill. Any location where health care is provided is included. That would include homeless camps where mobile clinics work. Any “place of worship or religious observation” is prohibited. This would include a park where sunrise Easter services take place. And it would deny churches such as the West Freeway Church of Christ the ability to limit the carnage a shooter would create.

SCOTUS flatly denied New York the ability to declare Manhattan a “sensitive location.” But the law circumvents this by saying that any private property that does not have a “Guns Allowed” sign is “sensitive.” If we add in buildings that house government agencies, that’s not just all of Manhattan, it’s all of New York State.

Image: Concealed carry holster (cropped) by Alian Gear Holster. CC BY-SA 4.0.

Think about it. Every part of any state is either publicly owned or privately owned. There are no exceptions. Essentially, all of it is now off-limits to concealed carry. My brother-in-law in upstate New York would be in technical violation if he carried in his own yard unless he first put up a sign saying guns are OK.

The list of “sensitive locations” is far too long for this post, but the Volokh Conspiracy page of Reason Magazine boils it down.

  • Any government agency or government-funded agency.
  • Any church.
  • Any school of any description.
  • Summer camps.
  • Shelters for abused, homeless, or otherwise helpless persons.
  • Any public transportation facility or vehicle.
  • Any facility used in connection with public transportation (this appears to mean any road).
  • Any performance venue (This would include street performers).
  • Any public sidewalk near a political protest.
  • “Any gathering of individuals to collectively express their constitutional rights to protest or assemble.” In theory, and bet on NY enforcing it, that includes two people talking politics under a streetlight.
  • Times Square.

Ultimately, the burden of knowing falls on the individual. You must keep that list handy, so you won’t step on a crack.

If you walk past a busker on your way to your favorite gun-welcoming eatery, you just committed a felony. And, if you leave your gun in a car, you can’t just stick it inside the glove box or console before locking up. No, you must fully unload it and then put it into a safe that isn’t visible from outside the car.

While we’re talking about that, how many safes do you know that fit inside a car? So, you put it in the trunk? You must momentarily show the gun on the way to the safe from your hidden holster. That’s another felony. And once more when you re-holster it.

As a final insult, you now must go through the NICS background check every time you buy ammunition. Once you buy it, you get entered into a state database. There’s no public access to the database but count on state agents poking through it. If you buy too much ammunition, it’s likely that you will get flagged on the monthly review-of-carry-permit-eligibility that’s written into the statute. You might be tagged with a red flag violation and your guns will be taken away.

The left in New York has joined the Left Coast as a Land of Fruits and Nuts. They hate guns so much that no restriction is too much. And in telling SCOTUS to shove Bruen where the sun don’t shine, New York’s leftists have functionally eliminated concealed carry in the state. That is unconstitutional and will be reversed when SCOTUS takes it up again. But for now, there are two key problems.

First, it will take time for a test case to get to SCOTUS. New Yorkers will have to lay low for years before their freedoms are restored. Criminals won’t care. In fact, they’ll be happy because their marks will be disarmed. Second, with the myriad of “sensitive places” in the new law, SCOTUS will have yeoman work to do to identify a bright-line law that tyrants aren’t allowed to violate. As for me, I’m glad I live in the Free State of Florida.

Ted Noel MD is a retired Anesthesiologist/Intensivist who podcasts and posts on social media as DoctorTed and @vidzette. His DoctorTed podcasts are available on many podcast channels.

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