A United States District Judge, John Cronan, declared New York City’s firearm and gun licensing regulations unconstitutional on Tuesday, October 24th.
The city’s approach, which gave authorities the power to reject firearm applications based on applicants’ “moral character,” was found to breach the Second Amendment rights.
Cronan, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, issued a 48-page decision asserting, “The constitutional infirmities identified herein lie not in the city’s decision to impose requirements for the possession of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Rather, the provisions fail to pass constitutional muster because of the magnitude of discretion afforded to city officials.”
The judge’s ruling aligns with the precedent established by the Supreme Court in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen case, which last year invalidated New York’s long-standing restrictions on concealed firearms.
Cronan critiqued the city’s criteria as “vague and unconstrained,” granting a temporary stay until Thursday to enable an appeal.
Defendants New York City and Former NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell attempted to justify the regulations by referencing 18th-century laws from New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
However, their argument was dismissed by Cronan, who underscored that those historical statutes didn’t impose a burden comparable to New York City’s broad and discretionary evaluation of an individual’s character before granting firearm possession rights.
The plaintiff, Joseph Srour, initiated the lawsuit after his permit applications for handguns, rifles, and shotguns were denied by the NYPD’s License Division in 2019, citing his arrest history, driving record, and alleged false statements.
In one denial notice, the License Division deemed his actions as reflective of “poor moral judgment” and questioned his suitability to possess firearms.
The denial notice states, “The above circumstances, as well as your derogatory driving record (twenty-eight moving violations and thirty license suspensions), reflect negatively on your moral character and cast grave doubt upon your fitness to possess a firearm.”
Srour argued that his criminal charges were ultimately dismissed, challenging the basis of the city’s denial.
This ruling in New York follows a similar trend observed in California where U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez recently declared California’s 33-year-old assault weapons ban unconstitutional, citing the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen case decision.