A New York law restricting the carrying of guns on private property has been blocked by a judge who says it violates the US Constitution’s Second Amendment.
US District Judge John Sinatra agreed to issue an injunction against a portion of the law that exposes a person to a felony charge if they carry a gun on private property unless the property owner has “clear and conspicuous signs” affixed permitting the carrying of firearms property or has otherwise “expressly consented to”.
The history of gun laws shows that determining private property “violates the right of individuals to keep and carry guns in self-defense outside of their homes,” Sinatra, a Trump-appointed staffer, said in a 27-page Nov. 22 ruling .
The US Supreme Court ruled in June in a case brought against another New York law – New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen – that the Second Amendment protects a person’s right to use a weapon in self-defense outside of their own to carry home and struck down the law that required people to show they needed a concealed carry license.
New York lawmakers soon passed Senate bill S510001, which New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law. Provisions included restrictions on private property and a ban on carrying guns in places deemed “sensitive,” such as churches and other places of worship.
However, according to the Bruen standard, laws in the region are only permissible if the government demonstrates that they are “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of sufficiently analogous regulations,” Sinatra noted.
New York attorneys asserted that the exclusion of private property was observed, citing restrictions imposed in New York and elsewhere no later than 1893. But all “are of unknown or finite duration,” and the state has not shown they have endured over time, Sinatra said. In addition, the small number of restrictions proves no tradition, he said.
“The state also argues that private owners have always had the right to exclude others from their property, and as such could exclude those who carry concealed handguns. But this right has always been one property of the private landowner—not to the state,” he said. The property owner must exercise this right—not the state. If a property owner wishes to foreclose, then: (1) the property owner must (2) do so. If the state does this, it violates the Second Amendment.”
The injunction prohibits state officials from enforcing the portion of the law dealing with private property. It will remain in effect until Sinatra decides the matter or an appeals court considers it. Sinatra denied the defendant’s request for a three-day stay pending appeal.
The Firearms Policy Coalition, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit, called the ruling a victory.
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, appealed.
The plaintiffs, including New York resident and gun owner Brett Christian, filed the request for a restraining order in September shortly after filing a lawsuit against the law.
The statute’s denial of Second Amendment rights has necessitated the statute being suspended while the case is resolved, they argued.
Christian has a concealed carry license but said under the new law he can’t take his gun to private places like gas stations, which he would normally do as a self-defense measure.
Hochul, signing the bill into law, said those who break the law “will be prosecuted,” while Steven Nigrelli, a senior state police official, warned that “if you break this law, you will be arrested.”
A separate case prompted an injunction against certain provisions, including a provision that required gun license applicants to share information about their social media accounts with authorities and a provision that required an applicant to prove that they ” have good moral character”.
US District Judge Glenn Suddaby, a judge appointed by George W. Bush, found the provisions violated the Bruen Standard.
“Historical statues, which form the basis of this precedent, treat people as entitled to have a firearm unless they pose (or, more specifically, are deemed by the government to be) such a danger,” Suddaby wrote, adding that New York law “provides that people are not authorized to carry it concealed unless they can convince a licensing officer (who has tremendous discretion) that they do not pose such a danger.”
However, on November 15, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned the stay as the state appealed Suddaby’s verdict.
Sinatra, the other judge, was also asked to block the portion of the law that designates public parks and public transit as “sensitive” places, thereby prohibiting the carrying of firearms on and off them.
Christian, a filing states, likes to hike a few times a month and has used public transportation on visits to Buffalo. Christian would stop hiking and using public transportation if he wasn’t allowed to carry a gun, the filing said.
Sinatra said he will decide on that aspect at a later date.