Gun rights group applauds after federal appeals court deals blow to NY concealed carry law

Gun Rights

Gun rights activists cheered Friday after a federal appeals court struck down parts of New York’s expansive concealed carry law. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit blocked three provisions of New York’s “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” (CCIA), a law Democrats passed last year in response to a Supreme Court ruling that declared the state’s previous concealed carry permitting requirements unconstitutional. In doing so, the appeals court allowed other parts of the law to go into effect.

In a 261-page ruling, the three-judge panel struck down a requirement that gun owners disclose their social media accounts for review when applying for a concealed carry permit. The court also blocked restrictions on carrying firearms on private property that is accessible to the public, as well as a restriction on concealed carry in houses of worship.

However, controversial parts of the law remain intact, including a requirement that applicants demonstrate good moral character and disclose household and family members on a permit application. New York will also be allowed to enforce bans on concealed carry in so-called “sensitive places,” including theaters, bars, public parks and other spaces. 

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Man holding handgun

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit blocked several provisions of New York’s “Concealed Carry Improvement Act,” which restricts where gun owners can carry concealed firearms and imposes new permitting requirements.  (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Gun rights activists praised the court’s decision but said the judges failed to faithfully apply the Supreme Court’s precedent, arguing the entire law should be thrown out. 

“Governor [Kathy] Hochul and her cabal in Albany never seem to get the message, and in turn, GOA is proud to have played a major role in rebuking her unconstitutional law,” Gun Owners of America (GOA) Senior Vice President Erich Pratt said in a statement. 

“Nevertheless, this was not a total victory, and we will continue the fight until this entire law is sent to the bowels of history where it belongs,” Pratt added. 

Friday’s decision is the first federal court ruling to consider potential limits on where licensed gun owners can carry concealed firearms since the Supreme Court expanded gun rights in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen (2022). Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in that opinion for the court that “the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” 

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announces new gun control regulations

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announces new concealed carry gun regulations at a press conference in New York City on Aug. 31, 2022. (ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

The consequences of the Supreme Court’s ruling have been far-reaching, upending gun regulations in several states. 

The circuit court judges acknowledged their ruling won’t be the final word on New York’s gun control law as the case winds its way through lower courts. 

READ THE SECOND CIRCUIT OPINION BELOW. APP USERS: CLICK HERE

“Our affirmance or vacatur of the district courts’ injunctions does not determine the ultimate constitutionality of the challenged CCIA provisions, which await further briefing, discovery, and historical analysis, both in these cases as they proceed and perhaps in other cases,” the panel wrote. 

The court said that lower courts were wrong to strike down New York’s requirement that concealed carry permit applicants demonstrate “good moral character,” arguing such a requirement is consistent with the nation’s historical traditions of firearms regulation. 

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Signage declares no firearms allowed on private property

A sign reading “No Firearms Allowed on This Property,” with a handgun in a red crossed circle, is seen outside a retail store in San Ramon, California, on July 21, 2019. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

“The CCIA’s definition of ‘character’ is a proxy for dangerousness: whether the applicant, if licensed to carry a firearm, is likely to pose a danger to himself, others, or public safety,” the judges wrote.

“And there is widespread consensus (notwithstanding some disputes at the margins) that restrictions which prevent dangerous individuals from wielding lethal weapons are part of the nation’s tradition of firearm regulation,” their opinion declared. “We therefore cannot conclude that every denial on grounds of ‘good moral character’ as defined by New York will violate the Second Amendment, though various avenues lie open for as-applied challenges.”

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New York Attorney General Letitia James said the court’s decision will help keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence. 

“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 New Yorkers safe,” James said in a statement. “This commonsense law was enacted to keep guns out of dangerous hands and away from schools, hospitals, parks, public transportation, and other sensitive locations. My office will continue to defend New York’s gun laws and use every tool to protect New Yorkers from senseless gun violence.”  

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