26 State Attorneys General Oppose New York Gun Rule As ‘Unconstitutional’

July 21, 2021 Updated: July 21, 2021

The attorneys general for Arizona and Missouri are leading a coalition of 26 states that oppose a New York gun law as unconstitutional.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Tuesday filed an amicus brief (pdf) with the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association vs. Bruen (Corlett) case.

The coalition urged the nine justices to declare New York’s “proper cause” licensing requirement unconstitutional.

“New York’s handgun permit regime, with its ‘proper cause’ requirement, unconstitutionally prevents the vast majority of law-abiding citizens from exercising their fundamental, enumerated right to defend themselves when it is more necessary—before they become a victim,” according to the 32-page brief.

“For this reason alone, the law is invalid per se. Due to the subjective nature of New York’s ‘proper cause’ test and officials requiring citizens to document future danger (including past violence where the same regime prohibited their right to self-defense), the regime fails muster under any level of scrutiny.”

On April 26, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appellate court’s decision to uphold New York’s state rules on firearms under the 1911 Sullivan Act.

The Argument

The coalition argues that the New York law “must be struck down and enjoined” because the state’s experience with “shall-issue regimes shows better outcomes.” Moreover, the Second Amendment guarantees citizens the right to “confront danger when and where it arises,” the brief states.

“Law-abiding citizens should not require the consent of faceless bureaucrats to exercise their right to keep and bear arms,” Brnovich said July 20 in a press release. “New York cannot override the Second Amendment or the natural right of self-preservation. I will continue to vigorously protect Americans’ constitutional rights.”

According to Brnovich, New York requires residents to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession” to obtain a concealed permit to carry a firearm outside the home.

Practically speaking, it requires New Yorkers to prove that they have already been a victim of violent crimes before they may obtain a firearms permit, Brnovich said.

Brnovich said the coalition’s brief shows many examples of law-abiding citizens who were denied permits after demonstrating a need, which amounts to a de facto ban on firearms.

The attorneys general argue that if the appellate court’s misinterpretation of the Second Amendment is upheld, the decision threatens the Second Amendment rights of all Americans.

In the amicus brief, the coalition cites the original meaning of the Second Amendment, which allows citizens to carry firearms for self-defense outside their homes.

Citing the Heller vs. D.C. SCOTUS decision, the coalition wrote, “In Heller, following the text and history of the Second Amendment, this court held that the federal constitution ‘guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.’”

The Heller decision further states that any prohibition that “makes it impossible for citizens” to engage in self-defense is unconstitutional.

“The most important element [in the amicus brief] is the quote from the Heller decision that regulation cannot be done in such a way as to eliminate the right” to keep and bear arms, Charles Heller, a co-founder of the Arizona Citizens Defense League—a pro-Second Amendment organization—told The Epoch Times.

“That is what New York, New Jersey, California and Hawaii do,” he said.

“Doing that is an example of regulating a right completely out of existence. That they cannot do. And that is what this lawsuit is all about,” Heller added.

42 States Have the Objective-Issue System

Forty-two states, including Arizona, have objective-issue systems where a permit is issued to a person who meets specific criteria including a background check, mental health records check, fingerprinting, knowledge of applicable laws, firearms training, or other requirements.

“The coalition demonstrates with empirical evidence that citizens who are concealed carry holders are significantly less likely than the general public to commit a crime,” according to the Arizona Attorney General’s press release. “The states also argue that objective-issue permitting and concealed carry permits decrease crime in general and allow citizens to defend themselves outside their homes.”

A 2013 review by the National Research Council showed that victims of crime who resist with a firearm are less likely to suffer a serious injury.

”Arizona’s experience with an objective-issue regime is telling,” Brnovich said. “Arizona implemented a licensed concealed carry regime in 1994 and then a right-to-carry for all law-abiding citizens, even without a license, in 2010.

“In 1994, Arizona experienced 10.5 murders per 100,000 people, while the nationwide rate was nine murders per 100,000. By 2016, Arizona’s murder rate was 5.5 per 100,000, nearly matching the national rate of 5.3.”

Joining Arizona and Missouri in the amicus brief are the state attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Arizona Sen. Martin Quezada, a Democrat and supporter of more robust gun controls measures, did not return a call seeking comment.