A three-judge panel has blocked major parts of New York state’s anti-gun law while allowing the state to create “sensitive sites” that limit where legal gun owners can carry.
However, the panel’s 261-page decision gave its thumbs-down to the state’s attempt to bar gun owners from carrying guns into churches, synagogues and other places of worship.
The ruling noted that its decision is not likely to be the last word as litigation continues that could include appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. The ruling notes that it was focused on a request by Gun Owners of America and other plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction to block the law, not a review of the law itself.
The law required that anyone seeking a handgun permit appear for an interview with an official to ensure that they are of good moral character. The appeals court said the requirement “is not facially unconstitutional. A reasoned denial of a carry license to a person who, if armed, would pose a danger to themselves, others, or to the public is consistent with the well-recognized historical tradition of preventing dangerous individuals from possessing weapons.”
However, it admitted the challenges to that provision could have merit.
Likewise, the ruling said so-called sensitive sites such as schools, hospitals and mass transit can be gun-free zones.
But the law’s ban on carrying guns in privately owned places open to the public was tossed out. The provision would have covered stores, restaurants and other places in which a gun owner would only have been allowed to bring in his or her gun if a sign was posted saying it was OK to do so.
“No matter how expansively we analogize, we do not see how a tradition of prohibiting illegal hunting on private lands supports prohibiting the lawful carriage of firearms for self-defense on private property open the public,” the 261-page decision said, rejecting a state claim that laws banning hunting on land someone else owned applied in this case.
The court rejected the law’s demand that anyone seeking a gun license present a list of all social media accounts, even those that use a pseudonym.
“Although the review of public social media posts by a licensing officer poses no constitutional difficulties, requiring applicants to disclose even pseudonymous names under which they post online imposes an impermissible infringement on Second Amendment rights that is unsupported by analogues in the historical record and moreover presents serious First Amendment concerns,” the ruling said.
“Anyone familiar with most social media platforms knows that nearly all handles are pseudonymous, at least to the extent that the poster’s identity is not immediately apparent. Requiring disclosure of handles is thus to demand that applicants effectively forfeit their right to pseudonymous speech on social media (where so much speech now takes place). That signiﬁcant burden on the right to bear arms is not one for which we see persuasive historical analogues,” the ruling said.
The ruling also tossed out a ban on churches arming their parishioners.
“The state of New York can’t tell houses of worship how they protect their people,” said Jeremy Dys, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, which is representing a pastor who is a plaintiff in the case, according to WNYW-TV.
“At this stage, the State has not demonstrated that allowing church leaders to regulate their congregants’ firearms is more dangerous than allowing other property owners to do the same,” the ruling said.
“It is hard to see how the law advances the interests of religious organizations, as a whole, by denying them agency to choose for themselves whether to permit firearms,” the ruling said.
Erich Pratt, Senior Vice President, of Gun Owners of America, issued a statement on the website of Gun Owners of America saying, “Governor Hochul and her cabal in Albany never seem to get the message, and in turn, GOA is proud to have played a major role in rebuking her unconstitutional law. Nevertheless, this was not a total victory, and we will continue the fight until this entire law is sent to the bowels of history where it belongs.”
Sam Paredes, speaking for the Board of Directors of the Gun Owners Foundation, said, “Frustratingly, much of this Court’s opinion reads like an insubordinate rebuke of the Supreme Court, which is a disgrace and cannot be allowed to stand. We are weighing action at the nation’s High Court.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.