ALBANY — State Attorney General Letitia James predicted in a legal brief filed Monday that New York could become mired in “regulatory chaos” if a federal court decision knocking out key sections of a new gun control law isn’t challenged.
James, responding to last week’s bombshell ruling by U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby, filed a motion aimed at keeping the Concealed Carry Improvement Act in effect.
The measure was hurried through the Legislature July 1, with Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, maintaining it was crucial to impose new restrictions on pistol permits to avoid “Wild West” behavior by those possessing firearms.
The legal brief from the attorney general states: “The serious risk of irreparable harm to public safety and the possibility of regulatory chaos necessitates an immediate appeal.”
Suddaby’s order found fault with the legislation’s ban on the carrying of firearms into “sensitive areas,” including parks, libraries, Times Square, zoos, playgrounds and public transit systems.
The judge also took issue with the legislation’s requirement that pistol permit applicants turn over their social media account information to authorities, disclose contact information for household members and demonstrate they are of “good moral character.”
James’ reply to the ruling argued it undermines the state’s efforts to fortify public safety, suggesting the abundance of guns in society, even those in the possession of law-abiding pistol permit holders, contributes to the danger factor.
“As the data confirm, more guns carried in more places by more people result in more crime, violence, and homicide,” James’ office argued.
The challenge to the updated pistol permit law was brought by Gun Owners of America, an advocacy group, on behalf of six pistol permit applicants.
The same law is also being challenged by the New York Rifle and Pistol Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, led by Tom King of Rensselaer County.
King told CNHI his group’s challenge is “even more comprehensive” than the litigation advanced by Gun Owners of America. He said while the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals will likely side with the state against gun rights advocates, the matter will eventually once again go to the U.S. Supreme Court, which on May 23 declared New York’s earlier concealed carry rules unconstitutional.
“This is not going to end,” King said, contending the new law is riddled with constitutional infringements that gun owners must address.
It was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prompted Hochul and her allies to try to circumvent it by writing a new measure that imposed even more restrictions on lawful gun owners
In striking down major sections of the new law, Suddaby branded it “an unconstitutional statute,” finding it amounted to “a wish list of exercise-inhibiting restrictions glued together by a severability clause.”
James, in disagreeing with the Suddaby decision, noted the earlier decision from the nation’s highest court that a prohibition on firearms in locations such as legislative assemblies and courthouses along with “new and analogous sensitive places are constitutionally permissible.”
Hochul’s opponent in the governor’s race, Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-Long Island, has sided with the gun rights groups taking on the new state legislation.
Over the weekend, two men were shot just outside Zeldin’s home while the house was occupied by his two teenage daughters. They escaped injury.
The crime has brought fresh attention to the gun crime issue, and on Monday Zeldin told Fox Business News: “We do need to roll back pro-criminal laws up in Albany. We have to take back our streets.”
Zeldin told Fox Business Network on Monday, referring to changes in bail law recently enacted in New York that Republicans say have shortened the amount of time a violent suspect is held in custody: “We have to take back our streets.”
Zeldin has argued the pistol permit laws and crimes carried out by armed criminals are two very different issues that cannot be approached by more onerous restrictions on people qualified to get pistol permits.
Hochul maintains the new gun control law benefits public safety.
Commenting on the shootings near Zeldin’s home, she told reporters in New York City Monday: “It’s a reminder, we all have to work together to get guns off the streets.”