September 8, 2022 – In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, New York State introduced the so-called Concealed Carry Improvement Act (“CCIA”) on July 1, 2022.  Among other things, the CCIA prohibits persons from carrying a firearm in an extensive list of “sensitive locations,” including government buildings, churches, libraries, and public transportation, as well as “restricted areas,” defined as private property where the owner has not expressly permitted the carrying of firearms.  The CCIA also requires applicants seeking a pistol carry permit to complete extensive training and provide the State Police with a list of all their current and former social media accounts for the past three years to “confirm the information regarding [an] applicants character and conduct.”

Shortly after the CCIA was introduced, plaintiffs Ivan Antonyuk, Guns Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation filed a lawsuit against Kevin P. Bruen, Superintendent of the New York State of Police, challenging its constitutionality, Antonyuk v. Bruen.  Plaintiffs also filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the enforcement of the CCIA before it was scheduled to go into effect on September 1, 2022.  Plaintiffs argued in their motion that the CCIA violates both the First and Second Amendments and is contrary to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Bruencase

Last week, Chief Judge Glenn Suddaby of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York issued a decision dismissing plaintiffs’ Complaint and denying their motion for a preliminary injunction as moot.  The court reasoned that when plaintiffs seek pre-enforcement review, they must show that they are “subject to . . . an actual arrest, prosecution, or other enforcement action.”  This showing can be satisfied by alleging an intent to engage in a course of conduct arguably affected with a constitutional interest, but that is prohibited by the statute and there is a credible threat of prosecution.

The court found that plaintiff Antonyuk alleged that he faces a “real, immediate, and direct threat of arrest, prosecution or other enforcement action” if he carries his firearm in a “sensitive location” or a “restricted location” as defined in the CCIA, but that he has not alleged that he intends to violate the law, and therefore lacks standing.  Further, the court held that under Second Circuit precedent plaintiffs Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation failed to establish associational, representational, or organizational standing to assert the specific civil rights and constitutional claims alleged in the Complaint on behalf of their members.  Since the CCIA has now gone into effect, a new plaintiff may satisfy the standing requirement by alleging that he or she intends to engage in a course of conduct that is constitutionally protected, but is now prohibited by the CCIA.

Although the court was not required to analyze the merits of plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, Judge Suddaby acknowledged that his decision may be appealed and stated that New York has “generated an unconstitutional statute in the CCIA.”  He stated that the “statute is conditioned on a logical impossibility” because it grants licensing officers the direction to deny a conceal carry license based on his or her perception that the applicant lacks “good moral character” as they could “use” a handgun in a manner that endangers oneself or others regardless of whether the “use” is for self-defensive purposes.  Judge Suddaby further noted that “[n]ot surprisingly, defendant [Bruen] cites no examples from this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation requiring an analogous logical impossibility as a condition precedent to carrying a firearm.”  The judge also stated that he would have granted plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction with respect to the CCIA’s list of “sensitive locations” and “restricted locations” because prohibitions on carrying firearms in such locations are not deeply rooted in the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.  Finally, Judge Suddaby stated that he would have also found the CCIA’s social media requirement to be unconstitutional, but he would have denied plaintiffs’ challenge to the statute’s increased firearm training requirements.

Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor any developments regarding the CCIA. If you have any questions concerning firearm related legislation in New York and elsewhere, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.