ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) — The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association sued the state police in federal court Thursday, challenging a state law that prohibits gun owners from carrying firearms in public without special authorization.
Co-plaintiff Robert Nash was denied authorization to carry a gun outside his home because he failed to satisfy the “proper cause” requirement. He was granted a permit to leave home with his gun to hunt and target practice, but not for self-defense in public areas.
In New York, an ordinary citizen “must establish a special need for self-defense which sets him apart from the general public to obtain a license from the State to carry a firearm in public for the purpose of self-defense,” according to the complaint.
It continues: “That restriction is akin to a state law concluding that the general desire to advocate for lawful political change is not sufficient ‘proper cause’ to exercise the right to free speech, and it cuts to the very core of the Second Amendment, no less than such a restriction would gut the First.”
Citing a September 2017 ruling from the D.C. Circuit that loosened gun control laws in District of Columbia, Nash says New York applies the “proper cause” requirement unevenly, depending on the county and the issuing official.
Co-defendant in the case is New York Supreme Court Justice Richard McNally Jr., who is also the licensing officer for Rensselaer County, in Troy.
Nash requested a license to carry a firearm for self-defense on Sept. 5, 2016.
“In support of this request, Mr. Nash cited a string of recent robberies in his neighborhood and the fact that he had recently completed an advanced firearm safety training course,” the complaint states.
After an informal hearing on Nov. 1, 2016, McNally denied the request. The other defendant is State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II.
Nash and the Rifle & Pistol Association are hoping to build on momentum from the D.C. Circuit ruling. The Washington Post reported that more than 800 people have asked D.C. police for licenses to carry loaded concealed handguns since the circuit’s 2-1 ruling in September.
Before that ruling there were only 123 active concealed carry licenses issued by D.C. police, which rejected about 77 percent of applicants for failing to list a “good reason.”
Represented by Kathleen McCaffrey Baynes, Nash seeks declaratory judgment that the “proper cause” requirement violates the Second and 14th Amendments, and an injunction against its enforcement.