Pro-2nd Amendment Groups Ask Court to Block NYC’s ‘Proper Cause’ Concealed Carry Permit Rule

Pro-2nd Amendment Groups Ask Court to Block NYC’s ‘Proper Cause’ Concealed Carry Permit Rule
A handgun in a holster in a file photo. (David Ryder/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

In light of the latest U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found New York state’s “proper cause” requirement for a concealed weapons permit to be unconstitutional, pro-Second Amendment groups are seeking to block a similar permit regulation in New York City, which they say “is just as bad if not worse.”

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), along with the Firearms Policy Coalition and five private citizens, on June 29 filed a motion in a federal trial court in New York City. They asked the court to stop the city from enforcing its own “proper cause” rule, which was established in the early 20th century, following the same logic of the newly invalidated state law.

“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling that New York State’s ‘good cause’ mandate is unconstitutional, we felt compelled to file this action because the city’s ‘proper cause’ requirement is just as bad if not worse,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb in a press release.

“Two of our plaintiffs previously held carry licenses in New York City for decades, but in 2020, both were denied renewal on the grounds they lacked ‘proper cause,’” Gottlieb said, arguing that it would be an “insult” to the nation’s highest court if the city were to allow the unconstitutional rule to live on.

“The City adopted this restrictive and completely arbitrary regulation more than a hundred years ago,” Gottlieb said. “And we should not have to drag the city kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, and into compliance with the Second Amendment and the recent Supreme Court ruling.”

In a 6–3 decision, penned by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for New York state to demand concealed weapons permit applicants to justify their need. Specifically, the court’s conservative majority held that this rule violates the Constitution by preventing “law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.”

At least two states, namely California and New Jersey, have scrambled to react to the June 23 decision by telling law enforcement agencies to cease applying “proper cause” or “good cause” rules.

“It is the Attorney General’s view that the court’s decision renders California’s ‘good cause’ standard to secure a permit to carry a concealed weapon in most public places unconstitutional,” wrote California Attorney General Rob Bonta in a June 24 legal alert. “Permitting agencies may no longer require a demonstration of ‘good cause.’”

A similar directive came from New Jersey’s Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin, who wrote that “the Supreme Court decision prevents New Jersey from continuing to require a demonstration of justifiable need in order to carry a handgun.” In New Jersey, concealed carry permits are rarely issued to ordinary citizens because they’re required to prove they have an urgent need based on a special danger to their life.

In New York, however, Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have shown little willingness to back off on gun policies.

Hochul, who on June 6 signed 10 Democrat-backed gun control bills into law, called for a special session of the Legislature “where we will explore a wide range of legislative options that will keep us in compliance with this ruling.” The session was scheduled to take place on June 30.

Meanwhile, Adams claimed the ruling “will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence,” adding that city hall will “continue to do everything possible to work with our federal, state, and local partners to protect our city.”

“Those efforts will include a comprehensive review of our approach to defining ’sensitive locations’ where carrying a gun is banned, and reviewing our application process to ensure that only those who are fully qualified can obtain a carry license,” Adams said. “We will work together to mitigate the risks this decision will create once it is implemented, as we cannot allow New York to become the Wild West.”