SYRACUSE, NY. -(Ammoland.com)- A judge in New York’s Northern District issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), knocking down most of the state’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA).
Gun Owners of America (GOA) teamed up with Ukrainian immigrant Ivan Antonyuk over the summer to prevent the CCIA from going into effect in Antonyuk v. Bruen. Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled that the CCIA was unconstitutional, but since Mr. Antonyuk did not intend to break the law, he lacked standing to sue.
The latest case became known as Antonyuk v. Hochul. This time GOA sued a slew of new people, including New York Governor Kathy Hochul. Mr. Antonyuk and GOA then found other plaintiffs that did intend to violate the CCIA and refiled and asked for a TRO. The courts have held that if a law is unconstitutional, citizens are under no duty to follow it.
Although the judge let certain aspects of the CCIA stand, most of the law was restrained. The judge followed the road map set by Bruen and ruled based on the actual text and history of the Second Amendment.
The first target of the judge was “good moral character.” Before Bruen, New York had a “proper cause” clause that allowed the state to reject concealed carry applications. The landmark Supreme Court decision knocked down the clause. Many people saw “good moral character” as a substitute for “proper cause” to allow the state to reject any concealed carry applications it chose to deny. The judge agreed and restrained the clause.
The judge let the character reference requirement stand but knocked down the requirement to turn over three years of social media history. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argued that this requirement not only violated the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, but it also violated their First Amendment rights to free speech. The judge agreed with this assessment and restrained the provision.
Also, the judge restrained a provision that required the applicant to turn over who lives with them. New York State wanted to check the backgrounds of all other adults before issuing a concealed carry permit. That means that if your roommate had a checkered past, you would also lose your right to a concealed carry permit. Judge Suddaby found the provision to be constitutionally dubious.
The judge let the “Such Other Information Required by the Licensing Officer” provision stand for now. Although he was not wholly comfortable with it, he felt that if he restrained it, the licensing officials could not follow up on questions about personal information and other minor questions. The judge let the state know he did have reservations about the provision.
The judge let the training requirement stand. The CCIA requires sixteen hours of classroom training and two hours of live fire training. GOA argued that the requirement put an unnecessary burden on the plaintiffs. However, the judge struck down the in-person interview, alleviating the applicants’ burden.
A big part of the case centered around the state’s designated sensitive areas. Judge Suddaby knocked down most of the provisions but did let some stand.
Suddaby also asked New York to modify the restrictions surrounding the banning of guns in churches and other religious buildings. In that case, he asked the state to carve out an exception for those on official duty, such as a pastor or other church employee.
The judge let the provision stand that banned guns in places controlled by federal, state, or local government. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas did say some places could be “sensitive areas,” and it seems like Judge Suddaby believed these locations fell within the Supreme Court’s opinion. He also believes that polling places and public areas restricted from general public access for a limited time by a government entity fell within these exceptions.
Some other places where he believed the government could restrict firearms were public transportation, such as buses and subways, and schools, such as colleges and universities. Guns on college campuses have been at the center of debate for years. At least for now, the state can ban guns in these places.
New York State also tried to ban guns anywhere alcohol is served, which included restaurants, movie theaters, sporting events, and concerts. The judge restrained the law from preventing concealed carry holders from entering those establishments which open much of the state to gun owners.
The CCIA famously banned firearms in Time Square. SCOTUS said that the government could not ban guns just because a place is where people gather. New York then banned guns in Time Square because it was where people gathered. This provision was the most blatant attack on the Bruen decision. The judge had no issue restraining the ban.
All other sensitive areas were knocked down. These places include homeless shelters, doctors’ offices, counseling centers, and a slew of other sites. New York’s vast list of sensitive areas got a lot smaller.
The judge also restrained the “restrictive area” provision of the law. This provision said a business was a “gun free zone” unless that business posted a sign allowing concealed firearm carrying. This provision would make it impossible to go to a grocery store or gas station. The judge said that this provision violated gun rights and property rights.
GOA celebrated the victory. Senior Vice President Eric Pratt believes that the judge gave New Yorkers the ability to defend themselves.
“Anti-gunners like Kathy Hochul and Eric Adams lied and misrepresented the Second Amendment to the courts, putting New Yorkers at a great disadvantage in the midst of rising crime,” Pratt said. “We are grateful to Judge Suddaby for his quick action to restore the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Once the TRO goes into effect, GOA encourages New Yorkers to exercise their rights and to defend themselves and the ones they love.”
Although the judge did issue a temporary restraining order, the battle is not over. GOA is still seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction against the law. Three other cases in the New York federal court system that takes on the CCIA are currently active.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.