Federal judge strikes down New York City’s gun licensing law

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(The Center Square) — A federal judge has struck down New York City’s recent gun control laws that restrict firearm licensing, calling the restrictions unconstitutional.

In the ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge John P. Cronan said the city’s recently approved requirements on gun licensing give broad discretion to local police to deny people firearm licenses, violating the Second and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Cronan said the rules, which allow for the denial of a firearm permit on a city official’s determination of the applicant’s lack of “good moral character” or upon the official’s finding of “other good cause,” are broad and unrestrained discretionary standards “which defendants have not shown to have any historical underpinning in our country.”

“The provisions fail to pass constitutional muster because of the magnitude of discretion afforded to city officials in denying an individual their constitutional right to keep and bear firearms, and because of defendants’ failure to show that such unabridged discretion has any grounding in our nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” he wrote in the 48-page ruling.

Cronan issued a stay in his ruling until midnight Thursday to give the city time to file an appeal.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed last year by Joseph Srour, who was denied a rifle and shotgun permit over prior arrests, bad driving history and making false statements.

Overall, New York state has some of the toughest restrictions on firearms in the nation, which makes it a frequent target for lawsuits filed by Second Amendment groups who argue the restrictions are unnecessary and deprive lawful gun owners of their constitutional rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the N.Y. State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case struck down a New York law requiring applicants to show “proper cause” to get a permit to carry a firearm.

The ruling prompted New York and other Democrat-led states to tighten their gun laws to further restrict firearm carrying, which spurred other legal challenges from Second Amendment groups.

A law signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in July 2022 seeking to close “loopholes” in private gun sales tightened firearm licensing and sales rules to make it harder to purchase a gun. It also defined private properties as “restricted” areas where carrying a gun is illegal.

Gun rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging a provision of law background checks for ammunition purchases, but the Supreme Court two weeks ago rejected a last-ditch appeal to overturn the rule.

Critics said the New York law was unconstitutional and called the provision on background checks for ammunition a “misuse” of the federal background check system.

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