Appeals Court Delivers Blow To New York Concealed Carry Law

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A federal appeals court blocked enforcement of portions of New York’s concealed carry law on Friday.

In a 261-page ruling Friday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals struck down portions of New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA) requiring social media disclosures and restricting carrying on private property that is open to the public and in places of worship. However, the ruling also rejected a lower court’s decision to block a portion of the law requiring applicants for a concealed carry permit demonstrate “good moral character.”

Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, told the Daily Caller News Foundation the ruling is a “mixed bag” as it failed to apply the text, history and tradition test for gun restrictions set out in the Supreme Court’s 2022 New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen decision.

The three-judge panel deciding the case included Judges Dennis Jacobs, a George H. W. Bush appointee, Gerald Lynch, an Obama appointee, and Eunice Lee, a Biden appointee.

“Given that most spaces in a community that are not private homes will be composed of private property open to the public to which § 265.01-d applies, the restricted location provision functionally creates a universal default presumption against carrying firearms in public places, seriously burdening lawful gun owners’ Second Amendment rights,” the court ruled.

As for the social media disclosure requirement, the court found that requiring the disclosure of “pseudonymous names” presents First Amendment concerns.

“[A]lthough 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 court found. (RELATED: Federal Court Finds State’s Handgun License Law Unconstitutional)

“It’s encouraging that the Court blocked the intrusive social media provisions, but just as intrusive are the processes needed to confirm someone is ‘of good moral character,’ which the Court has inexplicably chosen to uphold,” Sam Paredes said in a statement on behalf of the board of directors for the Gun Owners Foundation. “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.”

The ruling declined to block a portion of the law denying firearms to individuals who lack “good moral character.”

“The CCIA’s definition of ‘character’ is a proxy for dangerousness: whether the applicant, if licensed to carry a firearm, is likely to pose a danger to himself, others, or public safety,” the panel wrote.

The court did note that “good moral character” is a “spongy concept susceptible to abuse.”

“[A] licensing decision that uses ‘good moral character’ as a smokescreen to deny licenses for impermissible reasons untethered to dangerousness, such as the applicant’s lifestyle or political preferences, would violate the Constitution by relying on a ground for disarmament for which there is no historical basis,” they wrote.

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