A nationally syndicated editorial attempted to persuade readers on the merits of New York’s problematic “may issue” handgun permit law and why the U.S. Supreme Court should leave it intact. But they made a better case for why the law should be struck down.
The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen and their decision will likely come at the end of the current term. Early reviews suggest the Supreme Court justices were skeptical of the law, which might be an insight that NYSRPA might be expecting a significant Second Amendment victory.
Time On Your Side
Bloomberg News’ Editorial Board told readers they know better about community safety, self-defense and why law-abiding Americans, specifically New Yorkers, should or should not be allowed to carry firearms beyond their home. They misrepresented the Supreme Court’s role and jurisprudence in arguments favoring New York’s “may issue” permit law. They claimed time and age is more important than Constitutionality.
“A recent hearing left the impression that the Supreme Court…is inclined to strike down a gun law that’s been on the books for more than 100 years,” the editors opined. “That would be a grievous error…” They added, “The law, passed by New York state at the turn of the last century, says that those who wish to carry a firearm in public must show ‘proper cause,’…”
Time isn’t the legal measuring stick regarding laws restricting fundamental American rights. The “time” that matters in constitutional terms is the history and tradition at the time of enactment of the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Time is not on Bloomberg’s side. There’s a stronger argument for striking New York’s “may issue” law – nearly 415-years worth. Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington University Law School, described the flaws of New York’s law.
“There are few constitutional rights that have been debated so long in this country as gun rights,” Turley explained. “Indeed, before other Englishmen were given a written guarantee of the right to bear arms, colonists in Virginia in 1607 were given such a written guarantee by the Crown.”
The right of Americans to protect themselves was recognized more than 400 years ago as God-given. The Founders enumerated these rights, including the Second Amendment, “unalienable” and “endowed by their Creator,” and are protected as rights of individuals under the U.S. Constitution.
New York is one of only eight states that impose “may issue” restrictions on concealed carry permit applicants. Bureaucrats are the arbiters of God-given rights when deciding if law-abiding New Yorkers have a “proper cause” to bear arms.
Americans don’t need to look back 400 years — or even 100 — to understand the problems with this system. No one, for example, would continence a need to show an unelected bureaucrat “proper cause” to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Last year in California, another “may issue” state with strict gun control laws, Santa Clara County’s district attorney indicted four people, including some within the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office, of bribery and conspiracy for trading handgun permits for iPads.
In New York, federal prosecutors uncovered a pay-to-play scheme within the New York Police Department’s “may issue” licensing division where workers were paid thousands of dollars to rubber-stamp carry permits and four officers were arrested.
The Founding Fathers had the foresight to recognize that rights, especially those regarding firearms, must be enshrined and guaranteed to keep them safe from corrupt government officials. NYSRPA’s Supreme Court challenge to New York’s “may issue” law is a prime example, regardless of how long the state law has been on the books.
Acknowledging the Problem
Bloomberg’s editorial was syndicated in several news outlets, including the Washington Post, the Orlando Sentinel, the Quad City Times and others. The editors recognize the ongoing crime surge. They acknowledge criminals, including those in New York, already illegally possess firearms, “making crowded city streets, subways and buses less safe.” The suggestion that law-abiding citizens must show “proper cause” to protect themselves from vicious criminals is preposterous.
In Los Angeles, District Attorney George Gascon’s leniency towards criminals is well documented, including announcing the release of a convicted murderer after serving only a fraction of a 50-year sentence. The LAPD also announced by press release they couldn’t adequately protect the victims of follow-home robberies and that victims should “cooperate and comply.”
In New York City, the police commissioner and outgoing mayor can’t keep city residents safe and only throw blame at each other while crime surges. It’s no surprise the new mayor-elect, Eric Adams, won by running on a message of community safety. It would be leaving New York’s “may issue” law in place that would in fact keep law-abiding New Yorkers in greater danger.
In the last eleven months, 16.7 million Americans passed a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification to purchase a firearm. This is the second-highest year on record, behind only last year’s total of 21 million. The message to bureaucrats and editorial boards across the country is simple and clear. If they can’t get public safety from those in charge, they’ll do it themselves. The Supreme Court can ensure they can.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.