A few days ago, owing to an unfortunate incident that occurred here at the Fortress recently, I visited a local firearms emporium for the first time in some years. In the process I learned a few things of which I “should” have been aware some time ago.
New York state is highly unfriendly to the private ownership of firearms. That’s not exactly a secret; it’s been one of the most gun-averse states in the Union for more than a century. The rationale has always been “protecting” its residents, despite the clear and irrefutable evidence that more guns in private hands correlates very strongly with less crime and greater social peace. In sequel to the NYSRPA vs. Bruen decision handed down by the Supreme Court, the state government passed a “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” (CCIA) in a despairing attempt to keep private-citizen New Yorkers from acquiring and carrying handguns. That law has already been challenged in state courts.
Before my visit to the gun store, I thought I was aware of the full ramifications of the CCIA. I wasn’t. My discoveries shocked me near to paralysis.
The CCIA is aimed most squarely at the right to own and carry a handgun. It imposes absurd requirements on the applicant for a handgun permit. In particular, it imposes a social-media disclosure requirement on the applicant, supposedly to ensure that he is “of good moral character.” Who evaluates such things? In most New York counties, it’s either the local police department or the sheriff’s department.
Bad enough, eh? Yet one more entirely subjective rationale under which to deny a man’s right to keep and bear arms. But wait: there’s more! The legislature didn’t stop with handgun restrictions; it also changed the law regarding long guns. Since September 4, 2022, a New Yorker must acquire a license to purchase any semi-automatic rifle, regardless of caliber!
Mind you, the state didn’t bother to create a licensing authority for rifles. It merely delegated the job to the counties. In my county of Suffolk on Long Island, the police department is that authority – and that authority has decreed that one must acquire a handgun license to purchase a semi-auto rifle.
Applicants for handgun licenses face a two to three year wait for approval or denial. Give that a spin on your merry-go-round.
Now for a palate-cleanser, regard the following:
The above is KelTec’s KSG bullpup shotgun, chambered in 12 gauge. It’s only 26” long, has an ammunition capacity of 14 shells, has a felt recoil comparable to a 20 gauge pump-action shotgun, and is completely legal to purchase in New York state.
New York state law does not address high-capacity shotguns. Indeed, there’s a more advanced model, the KSG25, that can hold 24 shells. What does this do to the state’s rationale for licensing the purchase of handguns and semi-auto rifles?
Yes, I’m saving up for one as we speak.
This mess, in a state in which crime is rampant and criminals routinely carry guns, must provoke a true cleansing of laws. I would have thought the Bruen decision would do the job. Instead, it’s resulted in a kind of “defensive lawfare:” the state legislature enacts an anti-2nd Amendment law, waits for the courts to strike it down, and immediately enacts another, which it enforces until another court redresses the matter. Even those of us who are passionate about the right to keep and bear arms are barely able to keep up.
Only the federal courts can cure this disease. Yet despite the Supreme Court’s recent willingness to defend the right to keep and bear arms, there are significant difficulties involved. Lawsuits cost money, time, and effort. Most private citizens lack the legal knowledge and wherewithal. State legislatures such as the one in New York are state-funded, well supplied with legal resources, and operate essentially without restraint.
A couple of days ago, Florida enacted a permitless-carry law for concealed weapons: as close to “constitutional carry” as a state can get without wholly renouncing all licensing authority. That made it the 26th state to do so. With a majority of the states in conformance with the 2nd Amendment, how much longer can states such as California, Illinois, and New York continue to flout the clear text of the Constitution?
Your guess is as good as mine.