Tuesday, March 21, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Emergency relief denied to gun owners chafing under NY rules

The high court appears in no hurry to clamp down on new concealed-carry rules in the Empire State that replace ones it struck down as unconstitutional.

WASHINGTON (CN) — New York’s hurriedly enacted restrictions on who gets to carry a concealed weapon can stand for now, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday, rebuffing an emergency request for relief from gun owners.

Known as the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, the law took effect in September 2022 in rapid response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Second Amendment ruling last term that struck down the state's requirement for applicants to prove they had “proper cause” for a permit.

The new law, among other things, bars guns from "sensitive places" such as schools, playgrounds and Times Square. Applicants for a concealed carry permit must also complete 16 hours of classroom training and two hours of live-fire exercises.

A suit from gun owners won a federal injunction two months ago from a Trump-appointed judge, but the relief has been on hold pending appeal. Though the Supreme Court declining to vacate that stay Wednesday, two of the court's staunchest conservatives noted in a brief statement that the order should not be confused with an endorsement of New York's law.

“Applicants should not be deterred by today’s order from again seeking relief if the Second Circuit does not, within a reasonable time, provide an explanation for its stay order or expedite consideration of the appeal,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.

New York Attorney General Letitia James nevertheless applauded Wednesday's result.

“We have a right to enact commonsense measures to protect our communities, and I am pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to allow New York’s concealed carry gun law to remain in effect,” James said in a statement this morning. “Too many New Yorkers are plagued by gun violence, and we know that basic gun laws help save lives every day.”

Stephen Stamboulieh, a Mississippi-based attorney representing the gun owners, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Led by Ivan Antonyuk, the gun owners claim the regulations deprive them of their Second Amendment rights.

The justices could still consider the case, and the merits of the law, as Antonyuk's case progresses. It is historically rare for the Supreme Court to intervene in a proceeding when a lower appeals court hasn't finished its review.

Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, found encouragement in the conservative justice’s epilogue to the ruling.

 "While we would have hoped for immediate relief from the Court, this statement from Justice Alito is incredibly reassuring, in that the court is completely prepared to step in and re-assert the Bruen precedent should lower courts fail to properly, and in a timely manner, apply it in judicial cases where Second Amendment rights are being restricted,” Pratt said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “We look forward to continuing the fight against New York’s draconian law.”

Other provisions of the state's law include enhanced safe storage requirements, a requirement for individuals with concealed-carry permits to request a property owner’s consent to carry on their premises, and a background-check requirement for all ammunition purchases.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.