Let’s Take the Spin Out of This Court Decision

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posted on December 18, 2023
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Glenn Wedin courtesy Flickr

A recent court ruling in New York brought both wins and losses for gun owners in the state. In the Dec. 8 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case Antonyuk v. Chiumento, the court struck down the law’s ban of concealed carry on private property, such as stores, that are not posted with signs saying people can carry concealed on the premises. The court also struck down the state’s social-media disclosure requirement and a ban on carrying a firearm in a place of worship.

The law was hastily passed after last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which declared the state’s restrictive handgun license process to be unconstitutional.

Unwilling to accept citizens’ freedom, New York lawmakers quickly wrote and passed a new law that in many ways was even more restrictive than the previous laws.

The private-property portion of the law made it a crime to carry a concealed firearm onto private property without the express consent of the owner—the law even mandated how big the signs needed to be. Consequently, carry was banned on any private properties that didn’t have “clear and conspicuous signage” announcing that carry was permitted there.

In the court opinion, the panel wrote: “Given that most spaces in a community that are not private homes will be composed of private property open to the public to which § 265.01-d applies, the restricted location provision functionally creates a universal default presumption against carrying firearms in public places, seriously burdening lawful gun owners’ Second Amendment right.”

The ruling further stated: “That burden is entirely out of step with that imposed by the proffered analogues, which appear to have created a presumption against carriage only on private property not open to the public.”

The social-media section of the law states that anyone applying for a license must “submit … a list of former and current social media accounts of the applicant from the past three years to confirm the information regarding the applicant[’]s character and conduct.”

“Disclosing one’s social media accounts—including ones that are maintained pseudonymously—forfeits anonymity in that realm,” the court wrote. “Conditioning a concealed carry license on such a disclosure imposes a burden on the right to bear arms that is without sufficient analogue in our nation’s history or tradition of firearms regulation.”

Addressing the anonymity question, the court further wrote: “Requiring applicants to disclose even pseudonymous names under which they post online imposes an impermissible infringement on Second Amendment rights that is unsupported by analogues in the historical record and moreover presents serious First Amendment concern.”

The state’s ban on carry at places of worship criminalizes the possession of a firearm in “any place of worship, except for those persons responsible for security at such place of worship.”

“At this stage, the State has not demonstrated that allowing church leaders to regulate their congregants’ firearms is more dangerous than allowing other property owners to do the same,” the ruling stated. “It is hard to see how the law advances the interests of religious organizations, as a whole, by denying them agency to choose for themselves whether to permit firearms.”

While those victories were indeed important, the court upheld some portions of the law that pro-freedom advocates consider to be unconstitutional. These include a “sensitive locations” restriction that forbids guns in a wide swath of common areas, as well as the requirement that handgun owners must prove they are of “good moral character,” which is, at best, a judgment call state bureaucrats can use to again deny lawful people their freedom.

Not unexpectedly, New York officials ignored the ruling’s numerous wins for gun owners and declared complete victory in the case.

“Today’s decision to permit the state to enforce critical provisions of the Concealed Carry Improvement Act as the court process moves forward will help keep all New Yorkers safe,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a released statement. “My office will continue to defend New York’s gun laws and use every tool to protect New Yorkers from senseless gun violence.”

Of course, like most rulings, this one is far from final.

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