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New York Trying To Resurrect Racist Laws To Restrict Gun Ownership

REUTERS/Cindy Schultz/File Photo

Sarah Weaver Staff Writer
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New York is invoking colonial-era bans on selling guns to Native Americans to defend the constitutionality of its “good moral character” standard for obtaining a concealed carry license.

This requirement, part of the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA) that Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed in July, is set to take effect in September. The Supreme Court struck down a provision of the bill in June that required concealed carry permit applicants to demonstrate a need for self-protection.

Gun Owners of America (GOA), a gun rights lobbying group, sued New York State Police Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen in August, seeking to block the legislation. In response to the lawsuit, Bruen’s lawyers argued in a court filing that the CCIA’s “good moral character” standard is deeply rooted in Anglo-American legal tradition and should therefore be upheld by the court.

“From the early days of English settlement in America, the colonies sought to prevent Native American tribes from acquiring firearms, passing laws forbidding the sale and trading of arms to Indigenous people,” the filing reads.

Bruen’s lawyers also note that Catholics were barred from owning firearms, both in England and in colonial America, due to their suspected disloyalty. (RELATED: ‘I Don’t Need To Have Numbers’: Gov. Hochul Trying To Pass Strict Gun Control Says She Has No Evidence To Support Her)

“It proves what GOA has been saying for decades, which is that the origin of gun control is racist,” Aidan Johnston, GOA’s director of federal affairs, told the Daily Caller. “Gun laws come from a majority trying to suppress or dominate or control a minority, whether it be a minority of Catholics in early America, or a minority of Native Americans when there’s colonials trying to take over the continent.”

“It is sad, but not surprising, to witness gun control activists harken back to their racist roots,” Craig DeLuz, president and CEO of 2A News Corporation, told the Caller.

“Whether it was the ‘Black Codes’ of the post-slavery South … or the general granting of ‘discretion’ to local law enforcement to decide who was of ‘Good moral character,’ gun control has never been about controlling guns. It’s about controlling people,” DeLuz said.

In a response to Bruen’s filing, GOA released a brief Monday detailing ways in which “good moral character” laws were used to restrict both First and Second Amendment rights from minorities.

“Georgia’s 1840’s slave codes, much like the CCIA, prohibited the exercise of First Amendment rights without government licensure, prohibiting any ‘person of color’ from being ‘allowed to preach or exhort without written license,’ one of the qualifications of which was proof of ‘the good moral character of the applicant,'” GOA wrote in their response to the filing.

GOA v. Bruen reply by Sarah Weaver

“We’re pointing out that slave codes … are also the historical basis for denying people their right to carry a firearm on good moral character, obviously in an attempt to show that the root of this requirement is racist and unconstitutional and should be struck down,” Johnston told the Caller.

Hochul’s office did not respond to the Caller’s request for comment.