Washington, DC – -(AmmoLand.com)- Most states respect the constitutional right to carry guns in public for self-defense, which the Supreme Court upheld in June.
But some states are only pretending to comply with the Second Amendment, as illustrated by the law that New York passed after that decision and a similar bill that legislative leaders in New Jersey introduced last week.
In an Oct. 6, 2022 ruling, U.S. District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby rejected New York’s attempt to defy the Constitution and the Supreme Court. Although New York eliminated a demand that carry permit applicants show “proper cause,” which the Court said gave licensing officials too much discretion, the state retained and elaborated on a requirement that applicants demonstrate “good moral character.”
That amorphous standard, Suddaby noted, is based on “undefined assessments” of “temperament,” “judgment” and trustworthiness.
New York “has replaced its requirement that an applicant show a special need for self-protection with its requirement that the applicant rebut the presumption that he or she is a danger,” he wrote, “while retaining (and even expanding) the open-ended discretion afforded to its licensing officers.”
Under New York’s law, the assessment of “good moral character” includes an examination of the applicant’s online comments. As the gun owners who are challenging the law see it, that inquiry violates the right to freedom of speech as well as the right to bear arms, making the latter contingent on how applicants have exercised the former.
Suddaby issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the “good moral character” criterion, including the state’s demand for information about applicants’ social media accounts. He also took a dim view of New York’s sweeping, location-specific bans on firearm possession, which made it legally perilous even for permit holders to leave home with a gun.
Applying the standard prescribed by the Supreme Court, Suddaby said many of those restrictions seemed inconsistent with “this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” He concluded that the state’s prohibition of guns in settings such as bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, gambling facilities, stadiums, parks, playgrounds, zoos, libraries, museums and public transportation probably failed that test.
Unfazed by that warning, New Jersey Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Woodbridge Township) have unveiled legislation that closely resembles the law that Suddaby deemed constitutionally dubious.
Like New York’s law, their bill would impose a subjective standard for carry permits and ban guns from myriad places where people might want to carry them for self-protection.
To obtain a carry permit, an applicant would have to persuade the police that he does not pose a threat to himself or others. Toward that end, he would have to undergo an interview and submit any information that local or state police officials deemed relevant, including “publicly available statements posted or published online by the applicant.”
Suddaby explicitly rejected both of those requirements in New York. And while the threat assessment that Scutari and Coughlin imagine may not be quite as open-ended as New York’s “good moral character” test, it likewise gives licensing authorities wide discretion to reject applications based on subjective judgments, including inferences from opinions an applicant has expressed.
Scutari and Coughlin’s list of gun-free locations is even longer than New York’s, and it includes many restrictions that Suddaby thought the state had failed to justify. In addition to banning guns in specified places, the bill would prohibit them on private property, including homes as well as businesses, unless the owner expressly allows them and posts a sign to that effect — another rule that Suddaby rejected.
These regulations, Democrats bragged, will make New Jersey “the toughest in the nation when it comes to concealed-carry laws.” Coughlin said, “We’re doing this because we know gun safety does not conflict with safe gun ownership.”
Despite Coughlin’s assurances, his idea of “gun safety” plainly conflicts with what the Supreme Court has said about the right to bear arms. He may find that judges cannot be fooled as easily as he hopes.
About Jacob Sullum
Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @JacobSullum. During two decades in journalism, he has relentlessly skewered authoritarians of the left and the right, making the case for shrinking the realm of politics and expanding the realm of individual choice. Jacobs’ work appears here at AmmoLand News through a license with Creators Syndicate.
These same clowns take a oath uphold the constitution. A violation of that oath should result in permanant dismissal from office and lots of jail time . Criminals who refuse to honor thier oath need treated like the criminals they are .
no jail just a rope or guillotine
far too fast
Time to cull the herd.
It is time for Americans to PASS A LAW that BOOTS, REMOVES WITH FINES any “politician” who is found to have passed an UNCONSTITUTIONAL “law”! PLUS — any financial loss due to the “law” MUST be paid PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE by that person or persons who sponsored that “law”.
LOADS of them already on the books across the country. It’s WE, THE PEOPLE who lack the backbone ion stepping up to DEMAND accountability and the removal from office the tyrants that remain in office
rules be damned! leftists never learn from mistake, like normal people. these fools are shooting themselves in the foot with these obviously unconstitutional mandates. they are driving anyone concerned about safety and civil rights away from themselves. they are the epitome of a delusional tyrants.
I’m in NJ – hope these polticians are ready for a fight – whether it be in court or in the streets. It’s coming!
Were it up to me, any attempt to weaken the bill of rights, under color of authority, would bring forth charges of treason.
Treason would remain a capitol crime. After conviction an automatic appeal would be filed within six months and heard within six months (one year total).
Execution of sentence to take place within one year following the failed appeal. Any attempt to defer or delay this timeline would be considered an act of treason.
Try within 30 days… Those that commit acts of treason do so WILLINGLY and WITH INTENT. No need to give the morons a whole years to find an excuse for being a dumb ass.
A swift, fair and speedy trial, followed by a first class hangin’
….Jeez, now all the criminals will have to go to NYC to commit their crimes with such strict gun laws in NJ…..NJ residents rejoice in their newly acquired safety….yay
Why don’t these politicians who knowingly put laws in place that are unconstitutional get tried and convicted of civil rights violations?
you mean title 18??? someone needs to arrest and charge them …the criminals are running the government
These insidious people will take our rights or our money away through frivilous lawsuits.
Until politicians and bureaucrats go to jail for their anti civil rights behavior and legislation then they will continue to obstruct our rights.
The nebulous and the ill defined is the foundation of Jim Crow. Progressives have learned their lessons well, mostly from their Klan grandparents. They know how to render rights moot by subversion. Push back.