NY Enacted Its Firearm Licensing Requirements To Criminalize Gun Ownership By Racial & Ethnic Minorities
Before the decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, the most controversial case of the Supreme Court term that just ended was New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, concerning the right to a permit to carry a gun in New York. The suit was in response to New York’s requirement that people applying for permits to carry a concealed gun in public show “proper cause” — meaning, a need for self-defense.
But on June 23, the court held that New York’s restrictive law violated the Second and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.
New York’s law — like New Jersey’s — was more subjective. In New York, as a “may issue” state, the government may issue you a license if you meet the criteria, but they can also choose not to if the state believes applicants haven’t demonstrated a “proper cause” for having a license and proven it to the satisfaction of a “licensing officer” — a judge in most counties, but the local police or county sheriff in others.
In no other circumstances do we require people to apply to the subjective judgment of a cop or judge before they can exercise a right. If this were any other civil right, New York’s law would have long ago set off alarm bells in the minds of liberals. And indeed, some on the left in New York got that message, including the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, the Bronx Defenders, and the Brooklyn Defender Services, all of which joined several other groups in an amicus brief in support of striking down the law.
These groups know that when you make a right dependent on the government’s subjective say-so, it is no right at all. More specifically, they argued: “New York enacted its firearm licensing requirements to criminalize gun ownership by racial and ethnic minorities. That remains the effect of its enforcement by police and prosecutors today.”
Letting cops decide who gets guns has not worked out the way many progressives would wish.
New York’s law was unjust. Making states set up objective standards (like the ones we have in Pennsylvania) ensures that all citizens are treated equally.