SYRACUSE, NY - Gun Owners of America (GOA) and Gun Owners Foundation (GOF) scored a major victory in federal court. A Judge in New York’s Northern District issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against most of New York State’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA).
We're celebrating our latest wins in New York and Pennsylvania, but those aren't the only cases we're involved in. pic.twitter.com/MwcZ2XFF1x— Gun Owners of America (@GunOwners) October 9, 2022
Ukrainian immigrant Ivan Antonyuk partnered with GOF and GOA last August to prevent New York from enacting the CCIA in Antonyuk v. Bruen. Although the judge ruled that the CCIA was most likely unconstitutional, he could not enjoin the law because Mr. Antonyuk did not intend to break the law. The judge stated that Mr. Antonyuk was too law-abiding.
The legal team for GOA and GOF then brought in additional plaintiffs that did intend to violate the CCIA and refiled in the state’s Northern District court. This time GOA sued a slew of new people, including New York Governor Kathy Hochul. This latest case became known as Antonyuk v. Hochul.
Judge Glenn Suddaby, the same judge who ruled in Antonyuk v. Bruen, took on the case. This time he found that the plaintiffs did have standing. The judge followed the road map set by Bruen and ruled based on the actual text and history of the Second Amendment. He decided most of the CCIA violated the U.S. Constitution.
The first consideration was the Constitutionality of the “good moral character” clause. At the heart of Bruen was New York’s “proper cause” clause that said concealed carry applicants had to show that they had proper cause to carry a firearm. This law was one of the many “Sullivan laws” that targeted the rights of Italian immigrants at the turn of the 20th century.
The landmark Supreme Court decision in Bruen ruled that the “proper cause” clause was unconstitutional. GOA and GOF argued that “good moral character” was a substitute for “proper cause” by New York to allow the state to reject any concealed carry applications it chose. The judge agreed with the two gun rights groups and restrained the clause.
Although the judge let the state require character references, he restrained the New York requirement for applicants to turn over three years of social media history. GOF and GOA view this requirement as a violation of a person’s Second Amendment rights and a gun owner’s right to free speech as protected under the First Amendment. The judge agreed with the GOF’s arguments and restrained the CCIA provision.
GOF and GOA also targeted the state’s requirement to turn over the information of all adults living in the same home. New York State wanted to check the backgrounds of everyone listed on the application before issuing a concealed carry permit. That means someone you live with could prevent you from getting a concealed carry permit. This provision is guilt by association. Judge Suddaby found the provision unconstitutional and restrained it.
The judge let the “such other information required by the licensing officer” provision stand for now. He was uncomfortable with it but worried that a licensing official could not follow up on questions about personal information and other minor questions if he restrained the provision.
Judge Suddaby also felt that the training requirement was Constitutional. Sixteen hours of classroom training and two hours of live fire training are required. GOA argued that the requirement burdens the plaintiffs unnecessarily, as classes can run up to $800. However, the judge restrained the state’s in-person interview requirement, which should alleviate some of the applicants’ burden.
The gun groups took on New York State’s designation of sensitive areas. Judge Suddaby knocked down most of the sensitive areas, but he let some stand. The judge ordered other the state to modify other restrictions. One of these restrictions is surrounding the banning of guns in churches and other religious buildings. Judge Suddaby asked the state to carve out an exception for those on official duty for the religious organization.
Banning legally concealing a gun in places controlled by federal, state, or local government will stand. In Bruen, Justice Thomas did say some places could be designated “sensitive areas.” Judge Suddaby believed these locations fell within the Supreme Court’s Bruen opinion. The judge ruled that polling places and public areas restricted from general public access for a limited time by a government entity were also Constitutional.
He also believed the government could restrict firearms were public transportation, such as buses and subways, and schools, such as colleges and universities. Guns on college campuses have been at the center of debate for years. GOA and GOF have worked tirelessly to pass “campus carry” laws across the country.
The CCIA also banned guns anywhere alcohol is served, which included restaurants, movie theaters, sporting events, and concerts. Judge Suddaby restrained the law preventing concealed carry holders from being able to defend themselves at an entertainment venue.
The ban on concealed carrying a firearm in Time Square has been restrained. Justice Thomas wrote in his opinion that the government could not ban guns in a location just because people gathered there. New York State prohibited firearms in Time Square because people congregate there. This provision was a direct attack on the Bruen decision
The rest of the sensitive areas were restrained. These areas ignclude doctors’ offices, counseling centers, rehab centers, physical therapy offices, and a slew of other sites. Doctors can defend themselves and patients with firearms thanks to the rule.
The “restrictive area” provision of the CCIA was also restrained. The provision said concealed carry of a firearm was illegal at any business that did not post a sign expressly allowing concealed firearm carrying. GOA and GOF argued that the CCIA made it impossible to go to a grocery store or gas station. This provision violated both the plaintiffs’ gun rights and property rights.
GOA celebrated the victory. Senior Vice President Eric Pratt believes that the judge gave New Yorkers the ability to defend themselves.
“Anti-gunners like Kathy Hochul and Eric Adams lied and misrepresented the Second Amendment to the courts, putting New Yorkers at a great disadvantage in the midst of rising crime,” Pratt said. “We are grateful to Judge Suddaby for his quick action to restore the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Once the TRO goes into effect, GOA encourages New Yorkers to exercise their rights and to defend themselves and the ones they love.”
On behalf of the GOF board, Sam Paredes also celebrated the victory.
“New York doubled down to infringe on the Second Amendment in direct contradiction of the edicts from the U.S. Supreme Court,” Paredes said. “GOA and GOF are thankful to be vindicated by Judge Suddaby, who helped restore gun rights today. GOA and GOF will continue to fight for the rights of the people until Albany sets aside anti-gun hysteria and supports their citizens’ unalienable right to self-defense, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.”
Although the judge did issue a temporary restraining order, the battle is not over. GOA is still seeking a preliminary and permanent injunction against the law. New York State is expected to appeal the TRO.