Court Battles

Federal judge halts key parts of New York gun law

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked key parts of a New York law that aimed to restrict the carrying of firearms, ruling that some of the limits put in place under the new state statute likely ran afoul of the Second Amendment.

In a 53-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby said some of the law’s heightened licensing requirements and location-specific bans — including a prohibition of guns in Times Square — went too far.

He ordered New York officials to halt enforcement of the provisions at issue, but delayed his decision from taking effect for three business days to give the defendants an opportunity to seek emergency relief from a federal appeals court.

The dispute arose after the group Gun Owners of America brought a legal challenge against a New York law enacted this summer in the wake of a landmark Supreme Court decision that interpreted the Second Amendment as broadly protecting the right to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.

At the same time, the 6-3 Supreme Court ruling said guns could be restricted in certain “sensitive locations,” but left that term largely undefined.

In response, New York passed a law in July criminalizing the concealed carry of guns in airports, houses of worship, Times Square and other sensitive places and imposing new licensing requirements, prompting the legal challenge.

In his Thursday ruling, Suddaby, a George W. Bush appointee, said New York officials had justified only some of those new limits on constitutional grounds, while failing to adequately defend others contained in the new law, known as the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA). 

“Although this Court has found that most of the CCIA’s list of ‘sensitive locations’ violate the Constitution, the Court does so not because the list (or a portion of the list) must rise or fall in its entirety but because Defendants have simply not met their burden of sifting the historical materials for evidence to sustain New York State’s statute,” Suddaby wrote, citing the Supreme Court’s recent gun rights decision.

Specifically, the judge ruled that New York officials failed to legally justify gun restrictions in places of public transportation, Times Square and entertainment venues such as theaters, stadiums, concerts and bars.

“Based on the historical analogues located thus far, it does not appear permissible for New York State to restrict concealed carry in the following place: the area commonly known as Times Square,” Suddaby found. 

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) called the ruling “disappointing,” vowing to do “everything in my power” to combat gun violence.

“While this decision leaves aspects of the law in place, it is deeply disappointing that the Judge wants to limit my ability to keep New Yorkers safe and to prevent more senseless gun violence,” Hochul said. “We are working with the Attorney General’s office to review the decision carefully and discuss next steps in an appeal.” 

On the other hand, the judge let stand provisions restricting guns from property that is owned or temporarily restricted by the government; polling places; houses of worship, with some exceptions; schools; and public assemblies.

Separately, Suddaby ruled that some licensing requirements created by the new law, including a requirement that gun applicants disclose their social media activity, were likely unconstitutional. 

The plaintiff in the case, Gun Owners of America, hailed the ruling.

“Anti-gunners like Kathy Hochul and [New York City Mayor] Eric Adams lied and misrepresented the Second Amendment to the courts, putting New Yorkers at a great disadvantage in the midst of rising crime. We are grateful to Judge Suddaby for his quick action to restore the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” said Erich Pratt, the group’s senior vice president.

Updated at 3:24 p.m.

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