When New York City mayor Eric Adams was campaigning for the job, the former NYPD officer said that he would ditch his security detail if elected and carry his own gun; a campaign pledge quickly forgotten after he was elected. Sadly, most New Yorkers don’t get to have a private security team of their own and have to protect themselves against the growing number of violent offenders in the city, but even though Adams is cool with him carrying a firearm in self-defense, he’s adamantly opposed to the average citizen doing the same thing.
In fact, Adams says New Yorkers should be “very afraid” of what’s coming down the road if the Supreme Court overturns New York’s subjective, discretionary, and discriminatory “may issue” carry permitting laws when it issues its opinion in the pending New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which is expected to be released by the end of June.
“After what we saw the Supreme Court did on abortion, we should be very afraid,” he told reporters, referencing a leaked draft ruling from the court’s right-wing majority that would revoke the Roe v. Wade decision on reproductive rights. “In densely populated communities like New York, this ruling could have a major impact on us. So we are now looking with our legal experts to see what we can do … But we should all be concerned.”
Someone should probably inform the mayor that none of our constitutional rights are diminished or enhanced based on population density. It’s a right of the people that we’re talking about here, not a right of people in rural areas or suburban sprawl.
Adams, who has made cracking down on gun violence his top policy priority as mayor, said he’s hopeful that the city will be able to “carve out” zones where guns will be prohibited even if the top court scratches the licensing requirement, such as schools and subways.
But he acknowledged there will likely be court fights over those issues as well.
“This is going to be a legal battle for some time, but the lawyers are looking at it,” he said. “We’re not sleeping on this ruling, on this decision that’s coming down.”
Good luck arguing that public transportation should be “gun-free zones” given the fact that the 28-thousand or so New Yorkers with a valid carry permit can currently carry on the city’s subways without violating the law. Again, only when a right of the people is restored to them does Adams suddenly see a problem.
But what options does Adams have available to him if the Court strikes down New York’s law? I see a few possibilities.
- Fees – Right now New York charges concealed carry applicants $340 to simply submit their application. If you’re denied, you don’t get your money back. A shall-issue system will lead to many more applicants than the current process that gives police broad discretion in denying permits from individuals who haven’t shown “good cause” to carry a gun, but the city can still try to depress the number of concealed carry holders by making it too costly for many residents to apply.
- Training requirements – Oddly enough, New York City does not have any training requirements in order to receive a carry permit. Expect that to change if the Supreme Court rules that the state’s current permitting system is unconstitutional. Acquiring that training is going to prove difficult in a city with only a few private gun ranges, however, and that too will serve artificially suppress the number of New Yorkers exercising their right to carry.
- Gun-free zones – Adams is already exploring this option, and based on Justice Antonin Scalia’s brief aside in the Heller decision about the constitutionality of gun bans “sensitive places” you can bet that the city will argue that lawful carry should be prohibited in as many places as possible, including all city-owned property from Grand Central Station to Central Park, along with bans on carrying on public transportation, in bars and restaurants, museums, and on city streets during public events.
All of which, as Adams implied, are likely to lead to more legal challenges in the coming months and years. It would be nice if Adams would simply recognize that the Second Amendment means what it says, but I guess that’s a bridge too far, even for “moderate” Democrats in New York City.
I suspect, however, that whether he likes or not the Supreme Court is willing to recognize that reality, and the many barriers the mayor will attempt to erect between the people and their fundamental rights ultimately won’t be able to stop a flood of New Yorkers from embracing those rights and exercising them for the first time in their lives. We’ll still have plenty more to do even if we get a great decision in Bruen, but a great decision will make a difference for the tens of millions of Americans who are currently living in “may-issue” states with no access to their right to carry.