October 1, 2021

According to the American Bar Association (“ABA”), state and local governments have the right to tailor firearms regulations according to their own judgment regarding public health and safety.  This was the broad theme of an amicus brief filed by the ABA last week in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen,* the first major Second Amendment case before the Supreme Court in over a decade (for more information about the case, click here and here).

In its amicus brief (a submission to the Supreme Court by a “friend of the court” who is not a party in the case), the ABA argued that “it would be disruptive to centuries of settled practice—and deleterious to the protection of human life—to revoke state and local governments’ flexibility to balance these interests in fashioning concealed carry regulation.” 

New York only issues concealed carry licenses to those who show “proper cause” for the issuance of such a license.   Since “proper cause” is not defined in the law, police departments and judges have broad discretion in issuing concealed carry licenses, and they are often only issued to individuals who can prove that they have been specifically threatened or targeted with violence. 

The ABA argues that this policy complies with the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.  In that case, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm and to use it for self-defense within the home.  However, the Court also stated that Second Amendment rights were not limitless:  “Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

However, the Court did not address broad restrictions on the concealed carry of pistols, so the ABA’s (and New York’s) reliance on Heller may not convince the Supreme Court that broad discretion to deny Second Amendment rights is constitutional.

Oral arguments in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen are scheduled for November 3, 2021.  Renzulli Law Firm will continue to monitor the case, which will have a significant impact on concealed carry laws around the country.  If you have any questions about this case, the Second Amendment, or licenses to carry concealed handguns in New York, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.