New York – -(AmmoLand.com)- Not content simply to say New York won’t comply with Bruen, the New York Governor’s response to Bruen points to open revolt with the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Constitution.
On June 23, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court officially released its decision in the Bruen case. On that same date, a Press Release appeared on New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s website. It says much about her position on civilian citizens possession of handguns in public and what she thinks about the Court and its decision in Bruen. It reads as follows:
“Good morning, everyone. We just received some very disturbing news from Washington; the Supreme Court of the United States of America has stripped away the state of New York’s right and responsibility to protect its citizens with a decision—which we are still digesting—which is frightful in its scope of how they are setting back this nation and our ability to protect our citizens back to the days of our founding fathers. And the language we’re reading is shocking.
As Governor of the State of New York, my number one priority is to keep New Yorkers safe, but today the Supreme Court is sending us backward in our efforts to protect families and prevent gun violence. And it’s particularly painful that this came down at this moment. . . .
Today, the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that limits who can carry concealed weapons. Does everyone understand what a concealed weapon means? That you have no forewarning that someone can hide a weapon on them and go into our subways, go into our grocery stores like stores up in Buffalo, New York, where I’m from, go into a school in Parkland or Uvalde.
This could place millions of New Yorkers in harm’s way. And this is at a time when we’re still mourning the loss of lives, as I just mentioned. This decision isn’t just reckless, it’s reprehensible. It’s not what New Yorkers want. We should have the right to determine what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state.
Suppose the federal government will not have sweeping laws to protect us. In that case, our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can and have laws that protect our citizens because of what is going on—the insanity of the gun culture that has now possessed everyone all the way up to even to the Supreme Court.
The law we’re talking about has existed since the early 1900s. And now we can determine who is eligible for a concealed carry permit—this is not an ordinary permit. This is a special use that you can hide it from people. We have limitations if it’s for a proper cause, someone who’s been threatened, someone who needs it for their job as a security guard. We have classifications where it is allowed and has been allowed for over a hundred years.”
In tone and content, Hochul’s message is astonishing. It is a polemic directed at both present and future handgun license holders in New York. But, more than that, it is a presumptuous and dangerous assault on the Third Branch of Government, the U.S. Supreme Court, and on the sanctity and inviolability of the citizen’s natural law right of armed self-defense as codified in the Second Amendment of the Nation’s Bill of Rights.
In that Press Release, Hochul says she’s “still digesting” the scope of the decision. But is that true? Hardly. New York had prepared its response to Bruen months ago.
On July 2, 2022, seven days after the release of the decision and a scant two days after she called for an “extraordinary session of the Legislature in Albany . . . to discuss the impacts of the [Bruen]. . . decision overturning New York State law that previously placed ‘proper cause’ restrictions on the issuance of permits for concealed carry firearms in the state,” Hochul signed into law an extensive and elaborate array of amendments to New York’s handgun licensing statute, including amendments to related statutes, that sailed through the State Legislature in Albany. See the article on the jdsupra website.
The speed of the process—from drafting of amendments to their introduction in the State Senate and Assembly, then on to assignment to Committee, Committee markups, then passage of the amendments by both the Senate and the Assembly, and the forwarding of the amendments to Governor Kathy Hochul for her signature—all in the space of a week is remarkable—too remarkable to be believed!?
One must infer that Hochul had notice of the decision well in advance of the official release of the case decision—probably at some point after the oral arguments that took place in November 2022.
The amendments were ready to go upon the official release of the Bruen decision. Hochul’s signing off on the amendments was, then, a foregone conclusion. The release of the Bruen decision simply triggered immediate enactment of the amendments to New York’s handgun licensing Statute.
How bad are these amendments? They are worse than one can imagine.
Present holders of valid unrestricted and restricted New York concealed handgun carry licenses will find renewing their licenses extremely difficult. And first-time applicants for concealed handgun carry licenses will find the requirements for issuance of them no less confounding and onerous than before Bruen and much more vexing.
How did New York get to this point? New York had been moving toward this point for quite some time!
The progenitor of New York’s modern handgun licensing regime codified in NY CLS Penal § 400.00 et. seq., which took effect on September 1, 1967, is the Sullivan Dangerous Weapons Act of 1911. It was enacted on August 31, 1911.
Handgun carry licensing is not of recent vintage, then. The State has required handgun licensing for close to 112 years, and the State’s desire to keep it is deeply entrenched in the psyche of the Government and in the psyche of many residents of the State.
New York’s handgun license statute—the Sullivan Act that Kathy Hochul refers to in her Press Release—is a reminder to the State, the Nation, and the U.S. Supreme Court that the Sullivan Act is here to stay in New York, regardless of anything the U.S. Supreme Court has to say about it.
The Sullivan Act has gone through several incarnations since its enactment in 1967—but it always remains true to form—a handgun licensing regime with deep and wide roots.
Ostensibly created to deal with incessant crime by constraining the public’s access to handguns, the Sullivan Act failed in that objective, but New York kept it anyway, adding to it through the subsequent years and decades.
Indeed, the fairly recent New York Safe Act of 2013 is merely an aspect and extension of it, not distinct from it. And several amendments to the Safe Act have proceeded since—a flurry of them only in the past couple of years.
The most recent amendments, springing directly from the Bruen decision, take effect formally on Monday, September 4, 2022.
As the New York State Court of Appeals has explained, the Sullivan Act qua Penal Law § 400.00 “is the exclusive statutory mechanism for the licensing of firearms in New York State. O’Connor v. Scarpino,” 83 N.Y.2d 919, 638 N.E.2d 950 (N.Y. Ct. App. 1994). And that means there is no way for the civilian citizen to get around it. Handgun licensing is the foundation of New York’s assault on the Second Amendment and that of many other jurisdictions as well.
New York’s handgun license statute has undergone several iterations since its enactment in 1967. But the most recent amendments to it, coming on the heels of Bruen, will take effect on September 4, 2022.
Section 400.00 plus the Post-Bruen Amendments IS the Sullivan Act brought into the 21st Century.
Back then as now, New York, and other jurisdictions, including California and Illinois, rationalized civilian arms control as necessary to promote “public safety.” And Governor Hochul’s Press Release echoes that sentiment that hearkens back to the turn of the 20th Century, even as the crime rate in New York in the 21st Century continues to soar.
Continued constraints on civilian access to firearms in defiance of the Second Amendment have become an end in itself. Anti-Second Amendment proponents will rarely if ever, say that, and as many in Government will readily deny it even as they push for further constraints on the exercise of it.
“As the California Supreme Court ruled in People v. Camperlingo (69 Cal. 466 ), ‘It is clear that, in the exercise of the police power of the state, that is, for public safety or the public welfare generally, such right [to bear arms] may be either regulated or, in proper cases, entirely destroyed.’ The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Biffer v. City of Chicago (278 Ill. 562 ) that ‘the sale of deadly weapons may be absolutely prohibited.’” “Firearms Regulation: A Historical Overview,” 28 Crime & Just. 137, by Michael A. Bellesiles, Professor of History, Emory University.
The New York Governor, Kathy Hochul, the State Legislature, the State and Federal District, and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals are all on board with this. The average civilian citizen resident of New York has a wide chasm to cross to obtain the coveted prize of an unrestricted concealed handgun carry license. And that chasm has just become wider.
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