Monday, October 10, 2022

Schuyler County to take up call to repeal “unconstitutional” new state gun laws

Schuyler County is expected to join a host of other counties across New York opposing the state’s new gun laws imposing stringent new requirements for concealed-carry permits and firearm bans on most public and private properties.

On Wednesday (October 5), a committee of the Schuyler County Legislature approved a draft resolution asking the state to repeal the “New York State Conceal Carry Improvement Act” as “an unconstitutional infringement upon the Second Amendment right for law abiding citizens …to bear arms” that is “riddled with cumbersome, confusing, and redundant barriers of compliance” and which “does nothing to deal with the problems of crime and illegal firearms, especially in light of New York State’s ill-considered ‘bail reform’ laws.”

The resolution states that the new rules create “unfunded mandates,” and “potential threats to due process rights.” It also singles out the new rules requiring citizens to divulge their social media accounts as a potential violation of the First Amendment.

The resolution, prepared by Sheriff Kevin Rumsey and County Attorney Steven Getman, is expected to go the full legislature at its monthly meeting on Tuesday (October 11).

Various counties have issued similar resolutions, including by Allegany, Greene, Madison, Niagara, Seneca, Wayne and St. Lawrence counties.

The “New York State Conceal Carry Improvement Act,” which went into effect September 1, has led to court challenges from gun owners who say it improperly limits their constitutional rights. The new gun laws have also been subject to criticism by law enforcement groups and legal experts, including the New York State Sheriff’s Association and the President of the New York State Bar Association.

The measure was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul on July 1, mere days after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated key parts of the state’s prior concealed-carry provisions as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. The law was passed in the Senate on a party-line vote, with all 43 Democrats in favor and all 20 Republicans opposed.

Under the new law, applicants for a concealed-carry permit will have to complete 16 hours of classroom training and two hours of live-fire exercises and provide their social media accounts for review by law enforcement officials.

Additionally, even with a permit, ordinary citizens are prohibited from bringing guns to schools, churches, subways, theaters and parks, among other places deemed “sensitive” by the state. The list of prohibited spaces for carrying guns has drawn criticism from gun owners who say it is so extensive it will make it almost impossible for people to carry firearms outside the home without committing a felony.

Asked in June if there were any public places where carrying a firearm will still be allowed, Hochul said, “Probably some streets.”

Lawsuits challenging the new law have already appeared, including a complaint filed in the Northern District of New York alleging that “exorbitant fees, [a] slew of non-sensitive ‘sensitive locations’ and ‘restricted locations’ which include very public places (like parks and sidewalks), and incredulous demands for carry license applicants, all are entirely without historical example, and thus violate the Second Amendment.” The complaint also makes a First Amendment challenge to the social media submissions, arguing that New York is attempting to “use protected First Amendment activity to deny the exercise of another right.”

A complete copy of Schuyler County’s resolution can be found here.