Constitutional freedoms don’t stop at state lines – a point that Gun Owners of America (GOA) hope to make in the lawsuit they filed today in federal court.
GOA and the Gun Owners Foundation (GOF), along with plaintiffs, Carl Higbie, Joseph Harris, and Michael Votruba, who live in border states and have a license to carry in those states, filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of New York challenging New York state’s prohibition on both granting concealed carry permits for non-residents and granting reciprocity for those permits from other states.
The suit was filed against Steven G. James, in his official capacity as Superintendent of the New York State Police, Kyle Borgault, in his official capacity as the Sheriff of Rensselaer County, New York, and Donald J. Krapf in his official capacity as the Sheriff of Columbia County, New York.
In the current status quo, New York effectively nullifies any form of lawful concealed carry for non-residents. Even New Jersey grants non-resident permits under its newly enacted permitting scheme. New York’s position would seemingly put it under significant scrutiny from courts. One can imagine such a prohibition on any other constitutional right would be seen as a form of discrimination. The formal complaint elegantly summarizes it thus:
…for the 94 percent of Americans who are not residents of New York, the “right to keep and bear arms” in public simply does not exist within the State. No other provision of the Bill of Rights works this way.
In fact, the implications of a victory in such a lawsuit could set precedent for national concealed carry reciprocity which would be a significant victory for law-abiding gun owners.
“The State of New York and its cadre of anti-gun politicians have done everything in their power to weaken and outright ban the Second Amendment within their borders. The Supreme Court has made clear that the right to bear arms extends to the public square, and this right is for all Americans, not just those who are residents of individual states,” said Erich Pratt, GOA’s Senior Vice President.
Sam Paredes, a board member of GOF, made the following observation: “This is the only example nationwide that we can find where an out-of-state resident is completely barred from exercising their right to keep and bear arms, and there’s no doubt the anti-gun legislature in Albany purposely designed it this way. We’ve warned these politicians before and we’ll do it again, fall in line on the Second Amendment, or we will make you.”
The suit also gets into some of the stickier elements of New York law regarding firearms that have troubled non-residents for decades:
…because New York does not permit a person even to possess most firearms without a permit, the inability of nonresidents to obtain a New York permit means they cannot even “keep … arms,” even within a private domicile or on private property.
The complaint heavily cites Bruen and Heller among other notable cases that have set precedent.