For the second time in a week, gun rights organizations have filed a federal lawsuit challenging restrictive concealed carry regulations, this time in New York City, in what appears to be a vigorous effort to bring a right-to-carry case possibly before the newly-reconfigured U.S. Supreme Court.
The Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition are bringing the case in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. They are joined by a private citizen, George Greco, for whom the case is named: Greco v. City of New York. A copy of the lawsuit may be read here.
Named as defendants are the City of New York and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, in his official capacity. The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs are represented by attorney David Jensen.
Earlier in the week, SAF and FPC were joined by the New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS) in a federal challenge of the Garden State’s “regulatory scheme” that makes it virtually impossible for an average private citizen to obtain a concealed carry permit in order to carry a loaded handgun in public. That federal complaint may be read here.
The New York lawsuit challenges the inability of ordinary law-abiding citizens to obtain licenses to carry handguns in New York City. While honest citizens have a fundamental right to bear arms for self-protection, the complaint explains, the New York Police Department requires applicants to provide a “proper cause,” which amounts to demonstrating a special or heightened need. As arbitrarily enforced, this requirement prevents average citizens from obtaining a carry permit, which violates their fundamental right to bear arms outside the home.
“The right to bear arms must be available to all citizens in New York, not just wealthy people and celebrities,” said SAF Founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “Like other rights protected by the Constitution, that right is not limited to the confines of one’s home.
“The State of New York and New York City have enacted broad criminal laws to prohibit the carry of handguns, and then set up an unconstitutional requirement for the issuance of a license to carry, thus completely foreclosing the right,” explained attorney Adam Kraut, FPC’s director of Legal Strategy. “This case seeks to strike down these laws and allow New Yorkers and visitors to exercise the right to bear arms as they are entitled to.”
“People in New York have a right to carry a loaded handgun in public for self-defense, and contrary to what Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio think, the Constitution fully applies in the City and State of New York,” said FPC President Brandon Combs. “The Supreme Court in Heller was clear that to ‘bear’ arms means to ‘carry’ them on the person in case of confrontation.’ Anything that denies a law-abiding citizen the ability to exercise that right is unconstitutional, period.”
Gun rights advocates have said privately they need to get a carry case before the high court in order to define the “right to bear arms” as extending beyond the door of one’s house. In the Heller case, the court only affirmed the right of citizens to have a handgun in the home for personal protection. With more than 19 million citizens licensed to carry, it is imperative that anti-gun lawmakers and public officials understand the right is not confined to one’s residence because that would not be a right at all, but only a regulated privilege.