Concealed Weapons: US Court Upholds New York State Requirement for Permit

Article excerpt

New York states requirement that gun owners prove they have a special need for protection in order to obtain a concealed weapons permit does not violate the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

The three-judge panel unanimously upheld a state law requiring applicants to prove that theyd received a personal threat or had some other special need for protection before they would be granted a permit to carry a concealed firearm in public.

An appeal to the US Supreme Court is expected.

A group of gun owners backed by a major gun rights group challenged the permit requirement as a violation of their Second Amendment rights.

They contended that as law-abiding citizens they should be able to carry concealed weapons without having to prove to government officials that they had proper cause to do so.

The gun owners argued that the US Supreme Court established in landmark decisions handed down in 2008 and 2010 that Americans possess a fundamental right to keep and bear arms for self protection.

At issue was whether New Yorks 100-year-old concealed permit requirement violated Second Amendment rights by forcing applicants to demonstrate a special and individualized need for self protection apart from simply a general desire to carry a weapon for added security.

For example, under New York law, living in a high-crime area is not enough of a threat to entitle a gun owner to be issued a concealed carry permit.

The three-judge panel of the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Supreme Courts decisions established a fundamental right to possess firearms in the home but that that right did not entitle law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons in public places.

What we know from these [Supreme Court] decisions is that Second Amendment guarantees are at their zenith within the home, Judge Richard Wesley wrote for the panel.

What we do not know, he said, is the scope of that right beyond the home and the standards for determining when and how that right can be regulated by a government.

The court went on to conclude that the requirement of proof of a special need for self protection before receiving a permit was entirely consistent with the right to bear arms and the states traditional authority to regulate handgun possession in public.

Plaintiffs contend that their desire for self defense is all the proper cause required by the Second Amendment to carry a firearm, Judge Wesley wrote.

They reason that the exercise of the right to bear arms cannot be made dependent on a need for self protection, just as the exercise of other enumerated rights cannot be made dependent on a need to exercise those rights, he said. …