NYC Court: $340 License for Handgun Posession Doesn’t Violate Second Amendment

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. . .

From Newsday:

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.

avatar

About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

86 Responses to NYC Court: $340 License for Handgun Posession Doesn’t Violate Second Amendment

  1. Shouldn’t the ACLU be joining the suit?

    • avatarShire-man says:

      You’d think. If a city wanted to charge $2 to cover the administrative expenses of holding an election the ACLU would be charging full speed ahead and riots would break out all over the city.

    • avatarJim R says:

      You’ve heard how the ACLU counts, right?
      1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

      • avatarTaco Ninja says:

        +1

      • avatarA-Rod says:

        the only other group in the USA that pisses people off more than the NRA is the ACLU.

        • avatarRattlerjake says:

          Really the NRA doesn’t piss anyone off, even libturds, they just HATE the NRA. Libturds are pissed off that they (libs) can’t prevent the NRA from proving they (libs) are always wrong, and the Constitution backs the NRA (and visa versa).

      • avatarMr. Pierogie says:

        ACLU is just a collection of useless pinko commies who cherry pick the civil rights issues they feel like defending. They will complain about prisoners’ rights all day, but they will not get involved in a 2A case, check their website and you’ll see.

      • avatarJeffR says:

        The ACLU doesn’t make it past 8.

      • avatarDr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

        1,3,4,4,5,5,6,7,8,8

    • avatarTTACer says:

      so a poll tax is (rightly) illegal, but a tax on any of the BoR is not? Does that mean that one will not be forced to quarter troops (be they quasi-military or real-military) as long as they pay a fee? Perhaps one may demonstrate without a sign, but unless they pay a nominal $340 “sign fee” they may not carry a sign?

      • avatarcwp says:

        I’d actually like to see some city (or state) with a sense of humor start doing just this — echo the anti-self-defense laws passed by New York City, California, Massachusetts, and so on. Pick some other amendment, start passing laws that infringe it in analogous ways, and see how much publicity they can squeeze out of it.

      • avatarWilliam Burke says:

        Let’s see… quartering troops. You actually can stove their head in with a hammer in the middle of their beauty sleep.

  2. avatarDuke of Sharon says:

    And thanks to Justice Roberts, that decision will not be overturned by SCOTUS. After the Obamacare decision, the gubment can get around just about any right by allowing us to choose but taxing the choices it doesn’t like.

    • avatarRattlerjake says:

      Anyone notice that the weapon being shown isn’t even a weapon that “anyone” would conceal carry?

    • avatarTotenglocke says:

      I seriously hope that Roberts gets some very, very painful cancer. That bastard literally re-wrote a law (which the SCOTUS does NOT have the authority to do) in order to say that the Federal government has unlimited power and we have no rights.

  3. avatarDavid says:

    It looks more like 3,000% to me which is in keeping with NY City’s other gun policies.

    • avatarSpuriusOne says:

      I was just about to post that math ad well.

      • avatarWilliam Burke says:

        Land of the fee, home of the slave. A fee that like just screams, “welcome; don’t get any ideas about being a citizen, unless your here illegally.”

    • avatarGary Schulze says:

      I don’t know where they got $3-10 in the rest of the state. In Monroe County in Western NY the fee is $125. One time, forever. Or it was; I not sure if they kept the renewal in the SAFE Act. It’s possible the fee might be lower in some counties; the rules change from county to county. I have a paper permit and one county away they have a plastic card.

  4. avatarSHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!! says:

    $340 is a SEVERE infringement for lower income, law abiding citizens who probably need personal protection as much as anyone. Way to go NY! We cry about class warfare and you’ve just made it that much harder for the have nots to protect themselves! Unreal….

    I’ll keep saying it til I’m blue in the face…go here and join NRA for a discount…
    http://www.nra.org/joinhere

    • avatarRattlerjake says:

      Any tax or fee to own or carry a gun is unconstitutional. Why is it that is most states a fee is required only for concealed carry but not for open carry? A fee or permit is making you pay for your right to bear arms, the Constitution does not say only open carry. The problem is that gun owners have bought into this lie and accepted it instead of carrying concealed and fighting it as unconstitutional in the courts – the NRA and other gun rights organizations should be fighting this also.

    • avatarKeith M says:

      +1

      • avatarTTACer says:

        plus infinity. The power to tax is the power to destroy. I think someone important may have said that before me but I am going to take credit for it unless someone can contradict me.

  5. avatartaras z says:

    I live in NYC. (hopefully not for long.) and I am totally willing to pay that much for the license. but the rest of the process is so absurdly complex and time consuming and the fact thatthey can deny it for any reason they want has successfully discouraged me to even try. their backdoor ban worked. also in your house you have to keep it locked in a case unloaded and ammo must be separate and locked as well so it’s unusable for many defense scenarios. also the 7 round mag limit pretty much limits me to the smallest glocks or the 1911. damn sleazy politicians.

  6. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    The $340.00 fee doesn’t matter to the poor people because only the rich are allowed to protect themselves. Money talks and the poor don’t have any money to worry about, so they don’t need a gun.

  7. avatarMatt in FL says:

    So they’re claiming that administrative costs of $340 are necessary to issue a pistol permit with only three years of validity. A year ago Florida lowered the fee for a concealed weapons permit (with seven years of validity) from $85 to $70, because the special fund that those fees are paid into (which is only used to administer the concealed permit program) had run a surplus for the previous three years.

    That works out to $113/year in New York, and $10/year in Florida.

    I know cost of living is higher up north, but it’s not 10 times higher.

    • avatarPascal says:

      Everything in NYC is high thanks to the Unions that run a muck in the city. It could very well cost the $113/year in New York. Given the cost of food, transportation and other living expenses, I am actually not surprised.

    • Interestingly the article states, “The city had told the court that revenue generated by licensing fees before the fee was increased in 2004 covered just over half of the related administrative expenses.” But I can’t seem to find how much the fee was before 2004, it would be interesting to see if it was more or less than $170.

      • Found it and it is not inconsistent:

        “The New York City Council has been authorized by state law
        to set its own licensing fee since 1947, independent of the
        licensing fee range allowed in other parts of the State.
        In 1948, the New York City Council set the fee at $10 for an initial handgun license; the maximum fee allowed in other parts of New York State at that time was $1.50. Between 1962 and 2004, the licensing fee in New York City was increased six times. In 2004, Local Law 37 amended Admin. Code § 10 – 131(a)(2) to change the residential handgun license from a two – year permit with a fee of $170 to
        the current three – year permit with a fee of $340. In
        practical terms, the amendment to §10 – 131(a)(2) increased the cost for residential license holders of owning a handgun by $28.33 per year.”

        It was in the actual decision: http://www.ca2.uscourts.gov/decisions/isysquery/4983f752-1156-46d4-81e5-6affac7aaa86/2/doc/12-1578_complete_opn.pdf

        Also of interest:

        “In 2010, the cost of New York City’s licensing scheme again was studied by the New York Police Department (“NYPD”)
        in conjunction with the OMB. This most recent study concluded each initial residential handgun application cost the License Division $977.16 to process and that each renewal application cost $346.92″

        I would suspect that they took the salaries of all individuals in the License Division and divided it by the number of applications processed to come up with that number.

    • avatarJaredFromTampa says:

      Interestingly enough, when I sent in my application for my CWP about 3 years ago, the Florida Department of Agriculture had it to me in 2 weeks and never even cashed my check…they did however misspell my last name. I think at that time the cost was $150.00 but it is good for 7 years.

    • avatartwency says:

      PA is $20 for 5 years. $4/year.

      IMO we shouldn’t need any permit at all to carry given the wording of the U.S. and PA constitutions, but at least our fee isn’t onerous.

    • avatarBrock says:

      Indiana is $125 forever.

  8. avatarConrad says:

    Since poor people commit most of the crimes, do we really want poor people to own firearms? I mean, once we start restricting unaffordable social services from them, do we really want them to start rioting with firearms? :|

  9. avatardwb says:

    uh-oh, the NYC attorney should run run run away from that statement. The court specifically upheld the fee on the basis that it covered incurred costs. If the actual cost less than the fee, designed to “promote public safety,” the court would have ruled the other way.

    I have never really seen a full accounting, but in the documents it said that NYC claimed from a budget study it actually costs over $340 for the license. How can that be?

  10. avatarChuck Pelto says:

    TO: All
    RE: These ‘Judges’ Obviously…..

    ….failed English. As the Second Amendment says “shall not be infringed”.

    Or maybe they took post-grad lessons in English from Bill “that all depends on how you define ‘is’” Clinton.

    Regards,

    Chuck(le)
    [Be Prepared....this place is falling apart. And quicker than most people can recognize.....]

    P.S. Who ‘appointed’ these characters to this court? Clinton?

    • avatarHasdrubal says:

      They don’t speak English. They speak legalese, which is like creole, a totally incomprehensible dialect even if you think you recognize a word here and there.

  11. avatarChris says:

    Hmm…I wonder how much it costs to run an election in a small precinct in NYC? Perhaps they could charge a fee to each voter as they register to vote. Surely there is a cost to process that paperwork and verify residency. Then they could charge each person who votes a fee based on the cost of running the election divided by the expected turnout.

    Oh wait…it has already been ruled unconstitutional to charge people a fee to exercise THAT constitutional right.

    geez…if lil ol me can figure this out…

  12. avatarTaco Ninja says:

    I thought it was illegal to charge for what is a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT? Imagine a permit to go to church, or speak, or a permit to petition? Imagine a permit to NOT have your home searched without a warrant? Imagine a permit to protect your 8th Amendment right? Imagine a permit with a several hundred dollar cost for every African American guaranteeing their 13th Amendment right against slavery? Imagine a permit to be able to vote?

    How this is not unconstitutional is beyond me.

  13. avatarMartin says:

    How much of that fee goes to fund Bloomberg and his crusade against guns

  14. avatarRusty Puma says:

    Maybe we should all send dictionaries to the court so they can look up “infringed”.

    • avatarSoccerchainsaw says:

      Now that sounds like a good idea! Let’s start a movement! The “Teach Judges the Meaning of ‘Infringed’ Movement”!!!

  15. avatarTXDadoo says:

    “It is argued that a State may exact fees from citizens for many different kinds of licenses; that, if it can demand from all an equal fee for a driver’s license, it can demand from all an equal poll tax for voting. But we must remember that the interest of the State, when it comes to voting, is limited to the power to fix qualifications. Wealth, like race, creed, or color, is not germane to one’s ability to participate intelligently in the electoral process. Lines drawn on the basis of wealth or property, like those of race, are traditionally disfavored. To introduce wealth or payment of a fee as a measure of a voter’s qualifications is to introduce a capricious or irrelevant factor. The degree of the discrimination is irrelevant. In this context — that is, as a condition of obtaining a ballot — the requirement of fee paying causes an “invidious” discrimination that runs afoul of the Equal Protection Clause.”
    Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections
    SCOTUS, 1966

    Like voting, RKBA “is a fundamental matter in a free and democratic society…preservative of other basic civil and political rights.” I don’t see how the Second Circuit can square its decision with past precedent.

    • avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

      They can’t. They are legislating from the bench. Rule of law has long since broken down in this country.

  16. avatarGtfoxy says:

    Remember NYC residents are dispondent wealthies that baulk at such an outrageous fee. When the average “Town house” in manhatten is ~$1Million, what’s a few measly hundred bucks?

    • avatarSHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!! says:

      Manhattan yes…don’t forget about the Bronx, Queens, etc… they have rights too..

  17. avatarSterling the Bandit says:

    What about “disparate impact”? Check the stats on handgun ownership in six months and, if you find that successful applicants are disproportionately above the regional median income (or more likely, there aren’t enough low-income applicants to match their overall demographic weight) then you’ve got an very solid equal protection case. I’d imagine. The Left hates it when their constructions are used against them.

  18. avatarSteve in NY says:

    Here in Broome County NY, the pistol permit fee is $140. It takes 4 character references, a picture, fingerprints, and up to 6 months wait time.

    I would rather spend my efforts trying to get upstate NY to succeed from Albany and NYS. Or perhaps just move to a gun friendly state than go through that process.

  19. It seems one of the major issues with this particular case is that the plaintiffs “have put forth no evidence to support their position that the fee is prohibitively expensive.” The court decision even states that since the plaintiffs all obtained their license it obviously was not ‘prohibitive’. (??) Apparently to properly win a challenge this would require an organization aiding people too poor to pay more for a license then the handgun costs.

    • avatardwb says:

      that reasoning is circular to me. if they could not afford it, their application would not have even been processed, and therefore they would not be denied – which means they would not have standing to sue.

      By that logic, they could charge $10,000 by assigning the cost of “gun violence” – the entire budget of the NYPD – to pistol permit applications, only people who can afford it could sue. and they would lost because they could afford it.

      This is what passes for legal logic in this circuit.

      • I don’t disagree with you on the circular logic, but I would think that somebody that could show that they could not afford the $340 would probably have standing to sue, especially if it was a renewal.

  20. avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

    “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]”

    There’s the problem right there. There shouldn’t be administrative costs, because they city government should not be regulating a protected activity in the first place.

  21. avatarpeirsonb says:

    Come on, folks. Bloomy needs to offset the cost of using city personnel to run MAIG….

  22. avatarGtdad says:

    Primary safety anyone? See pic

  23. avatarGtdad says:

    Primary safety anyone? See pic.

  24. avatarChris says:

    This fee is discriminatory against poor and in that regard probably minorities in cities. The white stock broker in the Upper West Side can easily swing $340 and all the other costs to even get a permit allowed to be issued.

    The black waitress with two kids trying to get by who has a stalker and actually needs a carry permit can’t possibly pay this.

    If the true history of gun laws, much like poll taxes, were exposed as racist, especially in the south, liberals would be against them, or their heads would explode trying to resolve the conflict, win-win for me either way.

  25. avatarmomo says:

    The Constitution says that a “Right” can’t be taxed. The judge should be impeached. Anyone can file papers to impeach a judge. The reason why these corrupt “officials” get away with this s..t is because the people don’t stand up and say NO MORE. The fees go to subsidize the Police pension plan.
    So there you go, those that can’t afford healthcare, are living week to week on their pay check, can’t afford to put money into a savings plan (401k), can’t afford organic food, can’t afford rent stabilized rent, basically can’t afford to live in NY, are paying for the government and Union workers to have long holiday weekends to sit on a beach while us peons have to work on weekends. We have to pay out of our pockets but they don’t.
    I say that if we can’t be FREE, then the machine must be stopped.
    On another note,If the Safe Act is repealed, then nyc long gun owners should not be subjected to registration and fees. Equal Protection of the Law. The state legislature gave the larger cities the right to legislate there own laws but that doesn’t allow the cities to violate the Constitutions’.

  26. avatarg says:

    Wow, seriously? How long before the fee becomes $640? Or $3,400?

    In NYC, legally owning a handgun is for rich people only, apparently…

  27. avatarOle'Wolf says:

    Hey face it, Bloomberg is using up city money fast to support anti-gun drives thru MAIG… he needs the cash!

  28. avatarSpeleoFool says:

    Well, *someone* has to pay for gas for the MAIG bus…. ; )

  29. avatarJason says:

    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

    I think somebody needs to go back to judge school for a refresher course. If you need a permit, license, or other government permission slip to do it, it’s not a right.
    Back when judges got appointed based on their reading comprehension skills of late 18th century American English, rather than their adherence to a political group, the courts ruled that it was unconstitutional to license newspapers, because it violated the first amendment, by restricting the freedom of the press.

  30. avatarIn Memphis says:

    Im not by any means playing devils advocate here because I do not agree with this but what is $300 if you can afford to live in NYC? I almost applied to FDNY but they have a residency restriction and since the pay isnt great I didnt feel like paying $1500+ on a studio apartment. Just saying.

  31. avatarToasty says:

    >Have a licensing department
    >Have it open once a year
    >Have one employee
    >Pay them $1,000,000 /hr
    >Charge accordingly

    Sounds like a poll tax to me. I don’t understand why these lower court judges just hate the 2A so much. They just do not care about it. They’ll rubber stamp any law for any reason. If this SCOTUS rules that any of this garbage (AWB, mag limits, poll taxes, etc…) are permissible under the 2A, then we’ve reached arbitrary government.

  32. avatarDoc 03911 says:

    They say this is a good thing because guns kill, so they should be taxed. It that regard, should pens be taxed just as much? Metaphorically speaking, pens have killed more people than any other item. Are declarations of war not signed so that war can follow?

  33. avatarmediocrates says:

    look to more local governments attempting to quash second amendment rights through exorbitant fees and taxes on weapons and bullets.

  34. avatarmomo says:

    McDonald re-confirmed that Chcagoians have a right to carry and agreeing with Heller that that 2A is an individual right. What seems to be the problem with these Judges that will legislate from the bench for political purposes.
    Again a Right can’t be TAXED. In NYC not only won’t they give you a CC, but those who live outside NYC can’
    t carry in NYC even if they have a CC outside NYC. We must fight TAMMANY. Sullivan was a gangster who controlled the Gangs. Only his gang could get “permission” to have a gun. These “officials”, there are no officials they are representatives of the people, are modern day “Red Coats”, and should be dealt with appropriately. There are 45,000 LE and 8 million people In NYC. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what is right.

  35. avatarmomo says:

    Recall all those who do not uphold their Oath of Office. At least vote them out. They will get the picture.

  36. avatarDru says:

    If you ask any number of real New Yorkers if you need a license to have a handgun, most would laugh and could name at least five handgun owners. If you needed to buy one, it will be delivered to your door within the hour, along with any “medicinal” herbs or “adult” accompaniment you may need. If the price of entry is too high, people will just bypass that door.

  37. avatarNigil says:

    This brings up an interesting point for other places; Illinois’ new conceal-carry law specifically states where the fees collected will go (Section 60), and not all of them are earmarked for the administration of the permits. So it’s really just a tax on a constitutional right; i.e., unconstitutional. Maybe I’ll write the NRA…

  38. avatarArdent says:

    If NYC wants to create a license or permitting process for something (which needs none) then they should bear the cost. It doesn’t matter what the cost is, it’s a constitutional right. If NYC wants to maintain data base or gather information or whatever that is perhaps permissible, but the cost of doing so is theirs.
    Consider this: Could they conceivably increase the cost, then use that to increase the fee? If the courts ruling is based on the fee matching the cost their is nothing stopping the city from requiring 100 hrs of police overtime to stare at the permit before it’s signed, or issue the permits only when inscribed on gold bars. . . really any absurdity they care to come up with. It’s up to the legislature to set the cost, but it’s reasonable for the courts to limit what portion of that cost must be borne by the citizen, otherwise abuse is a near certainty. In this case it seems that rather than working within a set budget this particular bureaucracy simply does the work then passes the cost on to the citizen. Government cannot function in such a way. This will surely be reversed on appeal.

  39. avatarPat says:

    The hell is doesn’t violate the 2nd. Why should you pay for a natural right? That $ figure may be cost prohibitive for many folks.
    Eff the bastards.
    Clear proof that justice and the law are (can be) two different things.

  40. avatarDerryM says:

    Great! This will probably give Governor Moonbeam and the Demo-commie-rat hoplophobes in the California State Legislature ideas, since the State is teetering on bankruptcy day to day….they’d put a tax on taking a crap if they could figure out how to install a Crap-o-Meter on every toilet in the State.

  41. avatarHannibal says:

    soo… what WOULD be unconstitutional?

  42. avatarByte Stryke says:

    this is nothing more than a POLL TAX to disenfranchise the minority races who often have limited incomes.

  43. avatarNyNRAHunter says:

    Here is why they made a big mistake. a licence to possess a rifel or shotgun licence in NYC is $170 for 3 years. Why is paperwork for a hand gun more expensive then a long gun?

  44. avatarKCK says:

    Note it is set at $340, not $350. An off number like 340 implies the cost to process the application has been calculated instead of being truly arbitrary.
    But then again it is not arbitrary, it is purposefully high to discourage applicants

Leave a Reply

Please use your real name instead of you company name or keyword spam.