November 2, 2021

Are New York’s Concealed Carry Restrictions Racist?

The Supreme Court will hear arguments against the Empire State’s anti-Second Amendment law.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, wherein the plaintiffs argue that New York’s “proper cause” requirement for a resident to qualify for a concealed carry permit is not only too subjective but also discriminates against minorities. And here we thought only Republicans could be racist.

Joining the plaintiffs is the group Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, which contends that New York’s limit on residents’ right to bear arms is intentionally racist. “We represent hundreds of indigent people whom New York criminally charges for exercising their right to keep and bear arms,” the attorneys argue. “Virtually all our clients …. are Black or Hispanic. And that is no accident. New York enacted its firearm licensing requirements to criminalize gun ownership by racial and ethnic minorities. That remains the effect of its enforcement by police and prosecutors today.”

This racial discrimination claim adds yet another layer to a case that may not have been appreciated upon first review. Black Attorneys of Legal Aid observes: “The penal consequences of New York’s licensing requirements are reflected in today’s data from the criminal legal system. In 2020, while Black people made up 18 percent of New York’s population, they accounted for 78 percent of the state’s felony gun possession cases.”

As we have previously noted, gun control has a long and sordid racist history. The Hill’s David S. D'Amato once observed: “Forcibly disarming blacks in the South was among the early Ku Klux Klan’s reasons for organizing and one of its first goals. They knew what today’s well-meaning advocates of gun control do not — that the black letter of the law is one thing and de facto power relations are quite another. These gun control laws were passed to disarm black citizens. We might do well to keep this history in mind today when we consider how new, more restrictive gun laws will be applied.”

Dave Kopel sees significant similarities between the Bruen and Dred Scott cases. He writes: “Dred Scott refutes the notion that bans on bearing arms were the norm in the United States (or in any State). According to Dred Scott, American citizens have always had the right ‘to keep and carry arms wherever they went’ — so recognizing blacks as citizens would mean recognizing their right to bear arms.”

Furthermore, black gun ownership has skyrocketed recently, with gun sales to black men and women increasing by 58.2% in 2020 over the previous year. In an era when leftist politicians listen to the activists calling for defunding police — with such action having a greater negative impact on minority neighborhoods — it’s no wonder that an increasing percentage of black Americans are looking to utilize their Second Amendment rights.

New York’s current restrictions make obtaining a concealed carry permit not only hampered by a subjective threshold but also prohibitively expensive, as fees to merely process an application, with no guarantee of receiving a permit, total more than $400.

This case presents a ripe opportunity to see a significant Second Amendment-infringing law overturned. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling early next summer.

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