Salem Radio Network News Sunday, February 25, 2024

U.S.

US appeals court allows many New York restrictions on carrying guns

By Nate Raymond

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday ruled that New York state could bar gun owners from carrying weapons in “sensitive locations” like parks, zoos, bars and theaters, but it blocked enforcement of new restrictions on bringing firearms on private property open to the public.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision marked the first time a federal appeals court has ruled on where licensed gun owners can carry firearms since the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling last year expanding gun rights.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, in a statement said the three-judge panel’s ruling would allow the state to continue to enforce a majority of the provisions of its new gun-control law.

“My office will continue to defend New York’s gun laws and use every tool to protect New Yorkers from senseless gun violence,” she said in a statement.

Gun rights groups hailed other parts of the court’s ruling, which deemed some parts of the law likely unconstitutional, including a provision making a felony to carry a gun on private property open to the public without the property owner’s express consent.

The court also blocked enforcement of a provision that required applicants for concealed-carry permits to disclose their social media accounts and ruled that it was likely unconstitutional for the state to ban carrying firearms in places of worship.

The 261-page ruling stems from legal challenges by gun rights groups and New York residents to the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, which Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law in July 2022.

The law was enacted after the Supreme Court that June struck down New York’s strict gun-permitting regime and declared for the first time that the right to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment protects a person’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense.

The ruling, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen, also set out a new test to assess the constitutionality of gun laws by holding they must be “consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

New York’s new law expanded who could seek a license to carry a handgun outside the home, but required applicants to establish that they possess “good moral character.”

It also established a long list of “sensitive locations,” including churches, medical offices, public parks and theaters, where carrying a gun would be a felony even for license holders. New York City’s popular Times Square is one of these locations.

Several New York gun owners and advocacy groups like the Firearms Policy Coalition and Second Amendment Foundation sued, and a lower-court judge declared much of the law unconstitutional, saying it was inconsistent with the nation’s historical laws.

But Friday’s three-judge panel reversed those decisions with regard to a majority of the restrictions, saying many of the provisions were consistent with the country’s history of regulating firearms in crowded areas and public forums.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Marguerita Choy, Alexia Garamfalvi and Leslie Adler)

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