New York Gun Owners Scramble for Concealed-Carry Permits Ahead of New State Rules

New York is one of nine states that will likely need to change its laws following a decision by the Supreme Court last month that expanded Americans’ right to carry a firearm outside the home.

AP/Mary Altaffer, file
Governor Hochul signs a package of bills to strengthen gun laws, June 6, 2022. AP/Mary Altaffer, file

New York gun owners, fearing that strict new concealed-carry laws enacted to stymie the Supreme Court will actually make it harder for them to get permission to carry guns outside the home, are rushing to get pistol permits before the rules go into effect in September.

New York isn’t the only state where this is happening: It is one of nine states that will likely need to change their laws following a decision by the Supreme Court last month that expanded Americans’ right to carry a firearm outside the home.

Soon after Maryland changed its rules to comply with the Supreme Court, an overwhelming number of applications flooded in — so many, in fact, that the state’s email system was overwhelmed.

In New York, the new “shall issue” gun laws, written to comply with the high court’s ruling, may end up making it harder for New Yorkers who do not live in New York City to obtain a concealed-carry permit.

That’s because under the outgoing permitting scheme, local police precincts or county sheriffs had the power to decide whether applicants had sufficient cause for owning a gun. In many of the state’s rural counties, this meant it was fairly easy to obtain a permit.

The Supreme Court ruled in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen that New York’s “may issue” gun law — meaning applicants must show “good cause” for having a permit— was unconstitutional, a violation of the Second Amendment.

New York had defined “good cause” as a “a reasonable fear of imminent harm as a result of unlawful force,” which had to be more specific than general self-defense or neighborhood conditions.

The Supreme Court ruled that this law denied New Yorkers their Second Amendment rights and it ordered the state to create a new “shall issue” permitting process, meaning that applicants who meet a set of objective requirements would be granted a permit, weakening the power local sheriffs have in denying permits.

New York legislators, in drafting the new permitting scheme after the court’s ruling, elected to set a high bar. The new permitting process requires applicants to meet with a licensing officer for an in-person interview to confirm the “character and trustworthiness” of the applicant.

They will then have to disclose the names of anyone that they live with — including partners or minors — as well as at least four character references. Applicants must also disclose any social media accounts they have had for the past three years.

Finally, applicants will be required to show that they have completed the required training and certify that they do not have any convictions that would prevent them from owning a gun.

Now, New Yorkers are rushing to apply for a concealed-carry permit before the new laws go into effect on September 11, creating a long backlog of applications in sheriff’s and county clerk’s offices across the state.

So many people have applied in Onondaga County near Syracuse that the earliest one can get an appointment for a concealed-carry application is 44 weeks from now, on May 11, 2023 — well past when the new laws go into effect.

Sullivan County, in the Catskill mountains north of New York City, has seen a rise in applications as well, though the wait time for an interview appointment, required under the old law, is not nearly as long.

“With the new bill there’s no question that it will be harder to get a permit,” the Sullivan County Clerk, Russell Reeves, told the Sun.

Mr. Reeves noted that the strictness of the new laws are likely the reason for the recent uptick in applications for unrestricted concealed-carry permits.

The county clerk in nearby Rockland County, Donna Silberman, told the Sun that she has seen a five-fold increase in the number of applications coming in daily. Now, she’s receiving an average of 10 a day.

“As long as they come in with an amendment and a $5 fee, the judge will sign off on it,” she said. “We ran out of supplies; we’re waiting for cards.”

Ms. Silberman said that there has been a 70 percent increase in the number of filings for amendments, which are required for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is to change a sportsman’s license to an unrestricted concealed-carry license. 

In New York, a sportsman’s license is required to shoot at a range or to hunt. An unrestricted concealed-carry license allows the holder to carry a gun on their person in some circumstances.

Governor Hochul is aware of the recent rush for concealed carry permits in New York and said that the state is prepared for it.

“The comprehensive new law — drafted in close collaboration with the legislature — is devised to align with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen,” a spokesman for Ms. Hochul told the Sun. 

“Pivotal new measures within the law will directly address the implications of the Supreme Court decision, including any possible resulting uptick in individuals applying for concealed-carry pistol permits or those carrying weapons in New York State,” he added.

The new influx of concealed carry applicants is not limited to New York. In Maryland, state police are having trouble keeping up with the demand for new Wear and Carry permits,  Maryland’s analogue to concealed-carry.

That’s because on July 5, Governor Hogan eliminated the state’s “good and substantial reason” standard for Wear and Carry permits, ushering in a new standard for applicants.

“For the first time in decades, ordinary responsible, law-abiding citizens in Maryland will have their Second Amendment right for self-defense outside the home respected,” the president of Maryland Shall Issue, Mark Pennak, said.

Maryland Shall Issue, a gun rights advocacy group, reports that so many applications have been filed that the Maryland State Police have “exceeded the number of outgoing emails permitted” by their internet service.

In California, legislators also are considering new gun permitting legislation in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Currently, de facto permitting requirements vary by county, depending on the position of the sheriff.

Overall, nine states could see their gun permitting laws upended by the ruling, which, if New York and Maryland are an example, could lead to an influx of applications.

The New York Sun

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