New York concealed carry laws challenged in court

A man denied a concealed carry permit and a Second Amendment group he is a member of filed a federal lawsuit last week arguing New York’s licensing scheme is unconstitutional.

Refused a permit was Robert Nash, who joined with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association — the NRA’s state affiliate — in filing a legal challenge against the state’s pistol permit laws and practice. Named as defendants in the suit are State Police Superintendent George Beech and state Supreme Court Justice Richard McNally, the latter of which refused to issue Nash a permit because, while the man passed the needed background checks, he could not show a “special need” to carry a firearm in public.

“New York’s law claims to be a licensing scheme, but because licenses are only granted to a tiny percentage of New York citizens who can demonstrate they face an immediate, specific threat, in practical effect the law operates for most New Yorkers as a flat ban on carrying firearms for self-defense,” said Tom King, NYSRPA president.

According to the filing, Nash, who has all the qualifications outlined by New York law to apply for a permit, tried to obtain one in Rensselaer County in 2014. After waiting seven months he was granted a license marked, “hunting, target only” which did not allow him to carry a gun in public for self-defense. Citing a string of robberies in his neighborhood as a good cause to carry, and showing he had completed advanced firearms training courses, Nash appealed to Justice McNally, the licensing officer for the county, to have the hunting and target restriction lifted. In 2016, McNally denied Nash’s request, saying that he did not “demonstrate a special need for self-defense that distinguished him from the general public.”

Challenges to so-called “good cause” requirements for concealed carry permits have resulted in a mixed bag of decisions in federal courts in recent years. While the U.S. 9th Circuit struck several strict “may-issue” policies in California in 2014, a larger panel reversed that decision in 2016, which was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., local officials threw in the towel last year when it came to defending their own “good reason” requirement which denied more licenses than were granted after suffering a string of setbacks in the court.

Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, called the latest lawsuit “disturbing, but not surprising that the mini-NRA is once again seeking to waste taxpayer money on a frivolous lawsuit to make New York less safe.”

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