Round One by Tom Reynolds
Wednesday, the first legal challenge to Governor Hochul’s strict new gun control laws was dismissed on technicalities, allowing the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA), to go into effect September 1st, as planned.
The CCIA bans all guns (not just handguns) in approximately ninety percent of New York State, as "sensitive" places, and imposes strict new concealed carry permit restrictions similar to - or worse than - those that were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. The federal judge’s 78-page decision questioned the constitutionality of New York's CCIA - even calling it legally "doomed" - and that it could be challenged again in the future. But Chief U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled that he had no power to overturn the gun control measures because of technicalities in the lawsuit
The lawsuit began when, in response to Hochul’s move, two Virginia-based national gun lobbies, (the Gun Owners Foundation and the Gun Owners of America) joined with a Schenectady County gun owner named Ivan Antonyuk and filed suit against the law and argued that the CCIA is an illegal end-run around the Supreme Court.
As the law hadn’t gone into effect, Suddaby wrote that Antonyuk hadn’t been harmed (because he had not been subject to any prosecution). And the gun groups hadn’t shown they were actually harmed by the law, either, the judge added. In addition, the defendant, State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen, wasn’t actually the one in charge of carrying out many of the law’s provisions. Based on those issues, a law was allowed to proceed that the judge labeled as likely unconstitutional.
The judge warned that numerous parts of the law were likely unconstitutional and could be challenged again in the future: the state’s “good moral character” requirement; new laws requiring disclosure of social-media accounts; and the creation of an extensive list of gun-free zones. These all appeared to violate a law-abiding citizen’s constitutional right to carry a gun.
The vague requirement of "good moral character" is fatally similar to the New York carry-permit application language that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional, Suddaby wrote.
And the insistence that a gun could only be used "in a manner that does not endanger oneself or others" ignores what guns are all about. "The very act of using a firearm in self-defense against another person necessarily involves threatening, if not actually causing, danger to that other person," Suddaby noted. The law "literally does not permit one to use a firearm in self-defense" and is therefore "conditioned on a logical impossibility," he said, and "doomed" to be struck down.
In regards to the disclosure of social media accounts, Suddaby said that such a requirement could endanger a law-abiding citizen’s First Amendment right to free speech. He also questioned whether such a disclosure could also violate someone’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In no situation should a citizen be required to surrender one constitutional right in order to assert another, Suddaby wrote. Therefore, someone should not risk losing First or Fifth Amendment protections in order to enjoy their Second Amendment rights.
Lastly, the judge found fault with the state’s extensive list of gun-free zones and the part of the law that banned guns on private property without permission. The list of banned locations was so extensive as to be “almost limitless.” And the presumptive ban on private property was not consistent with the nation’s history of firearm regulation, he ruled.
Nevertheless, after 24 pages of describing why he believed the law was unconstitutional, Suddaby concluded his decision by noting that he didn’t think he could do anything about it, right now. (It appears that someone will have to be arrested for violating the CCIA in order to give Judge Suddaby the opportunity to move against the law.)
In defending her laws, Hochul was quoted by Fox News as saying, “This whole concept that a good guy with a gun will stop the bad guys with a gun, it doesn’t hold up. And the data bears this out, so that theory is over.” Oh really! Let’s show that data to Elisjsha Dicken, a 22-year-old concealed carrier who stopped a mass shooter in Indiana’s Greenwood Park Mall on July 17. It seems she has not read the Center for Disease Control sponsored report that estimates that a gun is used 496,000 times a year to stop an intruder in a home. (Obviously, not on Hochul’s reading list.)
In responding to the decision, neither Hochul nor Attorney General Letitia James addressed the fact that the Judge labeled parts of the law as unconstitutional and it was only a technicality that saved it. Suddaby’s decision is subject to appeal.
This case is not the only one challenging Hochul’s gun control scheme. On Wednesday, the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association filed a new lawsuit, arguing the CCIA legislation “replaces one unconstitutional, discretionary law with another unconstitutional, discretionary law.”
The NYSRPA lawsuit was filed the same day Hochul and fellow democrat New York City Mayor Eric Adams said New Yorkers who were approved for pistol permits by licensing authorities will face felony charges (and prison time) under the new law simply for entering a “sensitive” area designated as a gun-free zone with a handgun, rifle or other firearm.
It needs to be pointed out that both Kathy Hochul and Letitia James are running for reelection in November.