In most places where pistol licensing is required, the fee is fairly small. As low as $10 to $20, even in upstate New York. But in New York City, the fee to own a handgun is somewhere in the ballpark of $340. Any reasonable person might come to the conclusion that an increase in cost of over 300% from one part of the state to another might be due to the local government actively trying to discourage people from applying. Basically, a back-door handgun ban — particularly targeted at keeping the poor (those most likely to be victims of a crime) from being able to own the Constitutionally protected tools to defend themselves. But a federal appeals court in New York has just ruled that charging a $340 fee doesn’t violate the Second Amendment. . .
A federal appeals court gave the green light Tuesday to a law permitting New York City to charge hundreds of dollars for a gun licensing fee that costs $3 to $10 elsewhere in the state,
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the $340 handgun fee for a three-year license was legal for the same reasons that fees imposed on those seeking to stage a rally or a parade are constitutional.
“Imposing fees on the exercise of constitutional rights is permissible when the fees are designed to defray (and do not exceed) the administrative costs of regulating the protected activity,” the appeals court said.
This does, however, open up two interesting lines of attack. First, does it really cost $340 to issue a pistol permit? And second, if so, why is it so astronomically high in New York City compared to other jurisdictions in the state? I’m guessing that we’ll see an appeal sometime soon on this matter, but in the meantime you can bet that there will be some sharp accountants working the numbers.
NYC’s attorney had this to say about the ruling:
Susan Paulson, a lawyer for the city, said the court “properly recognized that the city’s licensing process is designed to promote public safety and prevent gun violence.”
Got that? Charging a fee prevents gun violence. By keeping guns out of the hands of poor people, perhaps? Because they’re too dumb to be trusted with guns? Sounds a touch elitist to me.