Rochester, N.Y. — One of a number of lawsuits challenging provisions in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act could soon be ruled on by the country’s highest court.
On Dec. 21, Gun Owners of America and Gun Owners Foundation filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the Second Circuit Court’s stay of a preliminary injunction in the Antonyuk v. Nigrelli case.
New York Attorney General Latitia James’ office had until Jan. 3 to respond, at which time they requested the stay remain as appeals to the Antonyuk and two other cases challenging New York gun laws were to begin hearings on Jan. 9. At press time there was no indication of the outcome.
In early November, U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby, who is based in Syracuse, declared multiple portions of the Concealed Carry Improvement Act – particularly a long list of “sensitive” areas where firearms are not allowed – to be unconstitutional.
The Hochul administration responded and on Nov. 15 were granted a stay from the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which the two pro-gun groups are now hoping SCOTUS will overturn.
“Governor Hochul and state lawmakers wasted no time in passing legislation that completely contradicted the Bruen precedent, and we urge the high court to once again hold the state accountable for violating the Second Amendment rights of their own citizens,” GOA President Eric Bratt said in a press release.
Bill Robinson, of the Rochester-based Gun Owners of America New York, said he wasn’t sure when SCOTUS would rule on the case, which originated with his group and is now with GOA, but put forth possible outcomes. The first was that Justice Sonia Sotomayor would deny it. But if she does so the plaintiffs could present it to another Supreme Court justice. Sotomayor could also approve it, which Robinson said is a most favorable outcome, or she could send it up to the full court.
“She has the option, she can put a stay on her own, or she can pass it on to somebody else, or (to) the whole group,” Robinson said. “We don’t know which way they’ll go with it but the good news is that they haven’t dumped it yet. So, I think we’re going to go some place. I don’t think the Supreme Court has any choice but to take this up.”
Hochul’s legislation was passed July 1, barely a week after the high court ruling in the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case, which removed a requirement of “proper cause” that some permit grantor’s placed on concealed carry handgun permit applicants. The CCIA went beyond handguns, however, placing numerous restrictions on all firearms as well as ammunition, licensed gun dealers and firearms transport. It also beefed up training requirements for permit applicants as well as required social media background checks.
Judge Suddaby’s Nov. 5 injunction halted the state police and local officials named in the lawsuit from enforcing some provisions of the law, including:
• The restrictions on carrying in public parks, zoos, places of worship, locations where alcohol is served, theaters, banquet halls, conferences, airports and buses, lawful protests or assemblies, and the prohibition on carrying on private property without express consent from the owner;
• Requiring good moral character;
• Requiring the names and contact info of spouses and other adults in the applicant’s home;
• Requiring applicants to disclose social media accounts for review.
A favorable ruling from SCOTUS would put Suddaby’s injunction back in place while various other lawsuits are sorted out and the 2023 legislative session gets underway.
Robinson feels Hochul, and the numerous Democrats who supported the CCIA, are targeting the wrong people by limiting concealed carry permit holders, which is the reason his group is challenging the legislation.
“Concealed carry permit holders are not on any criminal radar screens in the state of New York or throughout the United States,” Robinson said. “They are law-abiding citizens as a group. And they targeted us. We did five years of research in the City of Rochester. This year we’re up to 81 murders, 70-something stabbings, 280 houses shot up and 450 to 480 shootouts they’ve had, gun fights. The people they’ve arrested, there have been no pistol permit holders busted on anything in the last five years for crime in the City of Rochester. Who do they target? They targeted us. These are the reasons why we had to do this lawsuit.
“They’ve banned us from 1,700,000 locations to carry our handguns. So, virtually, we can’t carry a handgun anywhere,” Robinson said of the sensitive areas provision in the CCIA. “Hochul was laughing about that. She’s not interested in the facts.