In a landmark decision, a federal judge from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled against an effective gun ban, deeming it “unconstitutional.” The ruling is seen as a significant blow to Democrats who have been advocating for stricter gun control measures.
The case centered around Joseph Srour, a Brooklyn resident who, in 2018, approached the New York City Police Department (NYPD) License Division with an application to possess rifles and shotguns in his home. Not stopping there, Srour, the following year, also applied for a license to possess handguns in his home. However, his aspirations were met with disappointment when both his applications were denied in 2019.
The reasons cited for the denial were Sections 3-03 and 5-10 of Title 38 of the Rules of the City of New York (RCNY). The License Division’s Appeals Unit pointed to Srour’s prior arrests, his driving history, and allegations of false statements on his applications as the primary reasons for the denial.
LEGAL ALERT: A federal judge has struck down New York City's "good moral character" and "good cause" requirements for gun licenses, and stayed the decision until 10/26 so the state has time to consider appealing. https://t.co/kN63gxqnzo pic.twitter.com/C1V8c8Y8Iy
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) October 24, 2023
Judge John P. Cronan, who presided over the case, based his decision on a detailed interpretation of the Second Amendment, which explicitly safeguards “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.” Delving into the essence of the amendment, Judge Cronan stated that the conduct in question, which is the possession of firearms for lawful purposes, undeniably falls within the ambit of the Second Amendment’s text.
The crux of the issue, as identified by the court, was the broad discretion that the New York City regulations granted to licensing officials. The judge found that these regulations were not in line with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.
Specifically, the court took umbrage with the provisions that permitted the denial of a firearm permit based on a City official’s subjective determination of the applicant’s “good moral character” or if the official found “other good cause.” These standards, as per the court’s findings, were overly broad and lacked restraint, with no historical foundation in the country to support them.
Consequently, these provisions were declared facially unconstitutional by the court. In a move that showed the significance of the ruling, the court granted Srour’s motion for declaratory and injunctive relief concerning certain subsections of the New York City Administrative Code and the prior versions of Sections 3-03 and 5-10 of Title 38 of the RCNY.
This ruling is not just a victory for Srour but has broader implications. It challenges the discretionary and permissive licensing of firearms in New York City and protects the sanctity of the Second Amendment. It also sets a precedent that could influence future cases related to gun rights and regulations.