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Judge again rules parts of New York gun law unconstitutional

Darren McGee
Office of the Governor

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — A federal judge for a second time declared multiple portions of New York’s new gun law unconstitutional, including rules that restrict carrying firearms in public parks and places of worship.

The preliminary injunction Monday from U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby is legal setback for Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers, who quickly rewrote handgun licensing laws after the old ones were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

Suddaby halted the state police and local officials named in the lawsuit from enforcing some provisions of the law. That includes stopping people from carrying concealed weapons in certain “sensitive locations,” such as theaters and places where alcohol is served.

The same judge issued a similar ruling in October, but that order was appealed by the state and has yet to take effect.

It was not clear if the state would appeal the new injunction. A spokesperson for the state attorney general’s office said it was reviewing its options.

As in his first ruling against the gun law, Suddaby based his decision in part on “historical analogues” for rules restricting firearms in certain places, meaning guns have been banned from similar locales in the past.

He also put a hold on the defendants enforcing some of the state’s new licensing rules, such as one requiring applicants to be of “good moral character,” and another that made applicants turn over information about their social media accounts.

“The subjective and vague standard of ‘good moral character’ could allow licensing officers to deny an application if they were to see reflected in a compulsively disclosed social-media handle any hobby, activity, political ideology, sexual preference, or social behavior that they personally deem to show bad ‘temperament’ or ‘judgment,’” Suddaby wrote.

Legislators rewrote the state’s handgun laws this summer after a Supreme Court ruling invalidated New York’s old system for granting permits to carry handguns outside the home. The high court struck down the state’s longstanding requirement that people demonstrate an unusual threat to their safety to qualify for such a license.

The new law, which went into effect Sept. 1, broadly expanded who could get a handgun license, but it increased training requirements for applicants and required them to turn over more private information. The state also created a long list of places where firearms would be banned.

This lawsuit is being led by Gun Owners of America and was bought by six gun owners from upstate New York who claim the law infringes on their constitutional rights.

The suit names the head of the state police and local officials from Albany, Greene, Onondaga and Oswego counties.