October 13, 2022 – As Renzulli Law Firm previously reported, 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. The CCIA added new and onerous requirements to obtain a license to carry a handgun in New York. It also prohibited licensed persons from carrying firearms in an extensive list of “sensitive” locations, including government buildings, churches, libraries, and public transportation. It also defined all private property as “restricted” locations in which carrying firearms is banned unless the owner or lessee of the property displays a sign expressly permitting the carrying of firearms. Ivan Antonyuk, Guns Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation filed a lawsuit against Kevin P. Bruen, Superintendent of the New York State Police, challenging the CCIA’s constitutionality, with a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the enforcement of the CCIA before it went into effect. However, the lawsuit was dismissed because the court concluded that the plaintiffs and Defendant Bruen were not the proper parties to address the constitutional issues presented.
Antonyuk, along with five other New York State residents, all of whom are members of Gun Owners of America, filed a second lawsuit against Bruen and several other state actors correcting the deficiencies in the first lawsuit (Antonyuk v. Hochul). In addition, the plaintiffs in the second lawsuit filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) and a motion for a preliminary injunction. Chief Judge Glenn Suddaby of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, who issued the prior decision dismissing the first lawsuit, was assigned to the new lawsuit.
On October 6, 2022, Judge Suddaby issued a 53 page decision granting in part and denying in part plaintiffs’ motion for a TRO. The court analyzed the “likelihood of success on the merits” of each of their claims. Applying the Second Amendment analysis set forth in the Supreme Court’s Bruendecision, the court found that many of the provisions of the CCIA are unconstitutional infringements on the Second Amendment, including the following:
(1) the provision requiring an applicant prove he/she has “good moral character,” (the court sustained the provision allowing a license application to be denied if it is found, by a preponderance of the evidence (due process), and based on his or her conduct, that he/she does not have “good moral character”);
(2) the provision requiring that the applicant “meet in person with the licensing officer for an interview”;
(3) the provision requiring an applicant to list the “names and contact information for the applicant’s current spouse, or domestic partner, any other adults residing in the applicant’s home, including any adult children of the applicant, and whether or not there are minors residing, full time or part time, in the applicants home”;
(4) the provision requiring a “list of former and current social media accounts of the applicant from the past three years”;
(5) the prohibition of carrying a concealed firearm in “sensitive locations,” except for the following locations with an historic record supporting the prohibition:
(a) any place owned or under the control of government, for the purpose of government administration;
(b) any location being used as a polling place;
(c) any public sidewalk or other public area restricted from general public access for a limited time or special event that has been issued a permit for such time or event by a governmental entity, provided such location is identified as such by clear and conspicuous signage;
(d) any place of worship or religious observation, except for those persons who have been tasked with the duty to keep the peace at the place of worship or religious observation;
(f) any “gathering of individuals to collectively express their constitutional rights to protest or assemble;” and
(6) the provision making private property a prohibited “restricted location” unless a sign permitting possession of firearms is posted.
On October 10, 2022, the State filed an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and a Motion for a Stay Pending Appeal and Administrative Stay Pending Resolution of Defendants’ Motion. The State argued that the lower court’s ruling should be stayed until the Second Circuit issues an opinion resolving the appeal on the merits. Yesterday, the Second Circuit issued a temporary stay until a three-judge panel issues a decision on the defendants’ motion for a stay. Thus, the CCIA remains in effect, along with the restrictions imposed, until a further order is issued by the Second Circuit.
Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor any developments regarding the CCIA and New York’s firearms related legislation and litigation. If you have any questions concerning firearm related matters in New York and elsewhere, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.