A U.S. District Court Judge has ruled that New York City’s gun controls enacted after the city lost in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen are also unconstitutional. In a fit of pique following the judicial smackdown, the city deliberately ignored the Bruen ruling and enacted laws designating large swaths of the Big Apple as “sensitive places” and giving city officials the right turn down a carry permit application if they deem the poor taxpaying plebe to be “not of good moral character.”
That’s exactly the kind of “may issue” discretion that was at the heart of the Bruen complaint and why the city lost at the Supreme Court level.
As U.S. District Judge John P. Cronan (a Trump appointee) wrote in his opinion . . .
The Challenged Firearms Licensing Provisions land very close to the problematic “may issue” laws criticized in Bruen. … The Challenged Firearms Provisions empower a City licensing official to decide not to issue a permit or license for a firearm based on that official’s discretionary assessment of the applicant’s “good moral character” and the determination of a vaguely defined presence of “good cause.” Much like the “proper-cause” inquiry invalidated in Bruen, permitting denial of a firearms license based on a government official’s “good moral character” or “good cause” assessment has the effect of “prevent[ing] lawabiding citizens with ordinary self defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms.”
Well yes. That was whole the point of New York’s Bruen response law. It was a thinly-veiled attempt to reconstruct the same kind of bureaucratic discretion that the Bruen decision tore down. It didn’t fool anyone then and it didn’t fool judge Cronan who rejected the city’s arguments on historical grounds as well.
Finally, he wrote . . .
This case is not about the ability of a state or municipality to impose appropriate and constitutionally valid regulations governing the issuance of firearm licenses and permits. The constitutional infirmities identified herein lie not in the City’s decision to impose requirements for the possession of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Rather, the provisions fail to pass constitutional muster because of the magnitude of discretion afforded to City officials in denying an individual their constitutional right to keep and bear firearms, and because of Defendants’ failure to show that such unabridged discretion has any grounding in our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.
You can read the full ruling here.
The city will no doubt appeal the ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Watch this space.