New Yorkers Lose Bid to Carry Guns in Public

ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) – In another blow to gun rights groups in New York state, a federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit from two gun owners seeking to overturn the state’s tight restrictions on concealed-carry licenses. 

The Empire State prohibits most gun owners from carrying pistols and rifles outside their home, except for hunting purposes, unless they can show a special need for self-defense. 

In a lawsuit filed in February with the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Robert Nash claimed that a New York state judge wrongfully denied his application for a license to carry a gun for self-defense outside of his home. 

Nash claimed in a 2016 letter to the local licensing officer that a recent string of neighborhood robberies prompted him to seek the concealed-carry license. Nash had been granted a special permit to carry a gun outside the home for hunting, but not for self-defense.

“Mr. Nash does not face any special or unique danger to his life. He does, however, desire to carry a handgun in public for the purpose of self-defense,” according to the 11-page complaint, which was later joined by co-plaintiff Brandon Koch.  

The lawsuit claimed New York’s “proper cause” requirement – that gun owners who would normally be granted most other gun licenses need to show a special need to carry a loaded firearm outside his or her home – violates the Second Amendment and amounts to a de facto ban on virtually all public carry licenses in the state. 

“A government restriction that limits the right to bear arms in public for the purpose of self-defense to only those few, favored citizens who can demonstrate that they face a special danger to their life effectively operates as a flat ban on the carrying of firearms by typical law-abiding citizens, who by definition cannot demonstrate this kind of atypical need to bear arms,” the complaint states. 

In a brief opinion released Monday, U.S. District Judge Brenda Sannes found that Second Circuit precedent in Kachalsky v. County of Westchester– a 2011 case she called “virtually identical” to this one – upheld the constitutionality of New York State’s prohibitions against public carry licenses. 

Dismissing the complaint, Sannes noted that Nash, Koch and the gun association they belong to had acknowledged they sought a different result from Kachalsky and did not dispute that decision’s precedence. 

“Accordingly, because the Second Circuit has expressly upheld the constitutionality of New York State Penal Law § 400.00 (2)(f), plaintiffs’ claims must fail,” the judge wrote.

The New York Rifle & Pistol Association has brought similar suits in the last few years, emboldened by a recent federal court ruling in Washington, D.C., that loosened gun-control laws in the nation’s capital. 

Attorney Kathleen McCaffrey Baynes, who represents the plaintiffs, did not immediately comment on the ruling or say whether her clients would appeal.

Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, did not immediately return an email seeking comment Monday.

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