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New York City Files Amicus Brief in Major Second Amendment Gun Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court

September 22, 2021

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Corporation Counsel Georgia M. Pestana today announced the filing of an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in a Second Amendment case that could significantly impact the City’s ability to regulate the presence of concealed handguns in the City. The City’s amicus brief details the serious threat New Yorkers could face, especially those living within the City, the densest and most populous big city in the nation, if licensing officials were not able to assess proper cause. 

“The safety of New Yorkers is our highest priority,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As the NYPD works hard to tackle the rise in shootings, we cannot allow more guns on our streets. Our gun laws are common-sense, and I urge the Supreme Court to uphold them to protect New Yorkers from the scourge of gun violence.”

“Imagine how public safety would be affected if people were armed to the teeth on crowded subways or city streets,” said Corporation Counsel Georgia M. Pestana. “Minor everyday disputes and tensions could turn into deadly shootouts, putting both the participants and innocent bystanders in grave danger. In a city with over 8 million residents, the right of individuals to carry concealed handguns in public must be carefully balanced with broader public safety concerns. As detailed in our brief, courts across the nation have consistently upheld the right of state and local governments to enact gun licensing regulations tailored to their specific public-safety needs, and we urge the Court to do so here.”

“New York City’s status as the safest big city in the nation was earned in no small part due to our common-sense state gun laws,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. “Those laws are the basis of New York City’s constitutionally sound permitting process for those seeking to legally carry firearms. The NYPD’s licensing process ensures that concealed carry permits are issued to individuals who demonstrate a need for such a permit. Eliminating that requirement will only increase the number of guns on our streets, the number of shootings, the number of unintended victims and accidental shootings by untrained armed people. It will increase the danger to both citizens and police. At a time when New York City is struggling with an increase in gun violence, adding to the number of guns on our streets is not the solution.”
At issue is New York State’s “proper cause” licensing requirement for carrying a concealed handgun outside of the home. New York law authorizes jurisdictions throughout the state, including New York City, to require applicants for conceal-carry permits to show proper cause—a concrete need for self-defense.

According to the brief, proper cause reflects the state’s experience, accrued over several centuries, in tailoring firearms regulations to meet the specific public-safety needs of both its urban and rural areas. It has been a critical part of the state’s comprehensive efforts to address the problem of handgun violence while meeting the self-defense needs of its residents.

The City’s amicus brief was written by Richard Dearing, Elina Druker, Ingrid Gustafson, and Claude Platton, all of the Appeals Division of the New York City Law Department.


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