In an unfortunately predictable decision given New York’s aggressive gun-control measures, New York’s Appellate Division, First Department, rejected constitutional challenges to New York’s legal requirements for obtaining a license to carry a concealed firearm. Jonathan Corbett brought several constitutional challenges relating to the licensing requirements in New York. His initial claim was filed in New York County Supreme Court, where he asserted two challenges to the New York regulations: (1) New York’s “proper cause” requirement for obtaining a concealed firearms license was facially unconstitutional; and (2) three questions posed by the NYPD on its concealed-carry application were unconstitutional. The NYPD questions Corbett challenged related to (1) whether he has been discharged from any employment; (2) past narcotics and tranquilizer use; and (3) past testimony before an executive, legislative, or judicial body.
After the New York County Supreme Court denied Corbett’s challenges, the Appellate Division affirmed the denial. In affirming, the Appellate Division found “these questions are designed to elicit information that can assist the background investigation” and are justified as they advance a substantial, and legitimate interest, in insuring the public safety. As for the “proper cause” language, the Appellate Division found that although the term has never been defined, this element somehow satisfies intermediate constitutional scrutiny. In support of their position, the Appellate Division found that the “proper cause” element is “substantially related to the state’s important interest in protecting public safety.” Unfortunately, they offered no clarification as to what “proper cause” means, whether in the literal sense or as applied, in the context of persons seeking concealed firearms licenses in New York.
Corbett stated he will petition New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, to hear his case. We will continue to provide updates on this matter as it makes its way to through the New York courts.