Lawyers for New York Man File Appeal to Supreme Court in Case That Could Expand Second Amendment Rights

Lawyers for the appellants argue that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals chose to interpret the meaning of the Second Amendment that was not held by the Founders.

AP/Brittainy Newman, file
A customer checks out a handgun on display at SP firearms at Hempstead, New York. AP/Brittainy Newman, file

Lawyers have filed their petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court in a case that could be a landmark decision for Second Amendment rights, according to a legal filing obtained by the Sun. 

The case, Antonyuk v. James — formerly Antonyuk v. Nigrelli in lower courts — seeks to have New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act declared unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedent. 

The CCIA was passed by the New York legislature and signed by Governor Hochul just days after another landmark case in 2022, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which struck down a more than 100-year-old Empire State law requiring that individuals show proper cause or a need for a firearm before being issued a concealed carry license. 

Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas said that the government “must … justify its regulation by demonstrating that it is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

“Moments after this Court issued New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, striking down New York’s discretionary firearms licensing regime, New York politicians decried that decision as ‘reprehensible,’ vowing to resist the ‘insanity’ of ‘gun culture’ that ‘possessed … the Supreme Court,’” lawyers for Mr. Antonyuk write in their petition to the justices. 

“Rather than following this Court’s decision, New York sought to nullify it through a ‘Concealed Carry Improvement Act’ that makes it more difficult to exercise the right to bear arms in public than before Bruen was decided,” they write.

The CCIA instituted a new regime of gun permitting that requires applicants to demonstrate “good moral character” before obtaining concealed carry licenses and banned weapons from what it defined as “sensitive places,” including churches, Times Square, and other locales. 

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held in a decision last year that both of those regulations were constitutional. Mr. Antonyuk’s lawyers want the justices to strike down the provisions. 

“Intent on maintaining its de facto prohibition on public carry, New York decided that, if it must issue licenses to ordinary citizens after Bruen, it first would do whatever it could to discourage applicants by imposing novel and onerous licensing requirements, and then render any remaining licenses a practical nullity by prohibiting carry virtually everywhere in the State by declaring a multitude of brand new ‘sensitive locations,’” the appellants write. 

Justice Thomas’s original requirement in Bruen, that all firearms regulations be “consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition,” was deployed by the Second Circuit to justify upholding these two arbitrary and unconstitutional provisions, Mr. Antonyuk’s lawyers write. 

The judges of that circuit panel decided to evaluate the CCIA using “mid-to-late 19th-century statutes that reveal nothing about what the Second Amendment meant to those who ratified it,” the appellants continue.

“The lower courts need a definite pronouncement that the proper time period for ascertaining the scope of the Second Amendment is at the Founding — not the last two decades of the 19th century, as the panel apparently believed,” the lawyers continue. “This case would allow this Court the opportunity to clarify that government may not selectively disarm law-abiding members of ‘the people’ whenever licensing officials feel they are of poor character, potentially dangerous, or otherwise unworthy of enjoying the natural right to self-defense with which they were endowed by their Creator.”

The New York Sun

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