A federal judge has declared certain aspects of New York City’s gun restrictions unconstitutional, asserting that they give officials excessive latitude in rejecting gun permits based on an applicant’s perceived “good moral character.” Judge John P. Cronan highlighted that the city’s administrative code’s vast discretion to licensing officials infringes on the 2nd and 14th amendments of the Constitution. He pinpointed clauses that allow officials to gauge an applicant’s morality and determine if there’s a “good cause” for permit denial.
This verdict follows a pivotal U.S. Supreme Court judgment from June 2022, known as the Bruen decision, which asserted Americans’ right to carry firearms in public for self-defense. This major ruling, the first on guns by the Supreme Court in over ten years, has prompted various municipalities to re-evaluate their gun laws. Subsequent to this, there has been debate on whether courts are overstepping in repealing firearm restrictions.
Joseph Srour initiated the lawsuit after being denied a permit to own rifles and shotguns in his residence. Authorities rejected his application citing prior arrests, an unsatisfactory driving record, and alleged inaccuracies in his applications. Judge Cronan emphasized that the case centered on the constitutionality of the broad discretion officials held in gun licensing, not the power of states or municipalities to set firearm regulations.
Cronan criticized the ambiguity of notices that Srour received concerning the denial of his applications and said the regulations he ruled against have been modified since. While the city hasn’t commented, Amy Bellantoni, Srour’s lawyer, lauded the verdict as a victory for self-defense rights in NYC.
Earlier this year, city representatives contended that Srour’s application was rejected due to the omission of two previous arrests, one being an attempted murder charge, and a pattern of traffic violations. Judge Cronan, referring to the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, criticized NYC’s vague “good cause” stipulation. He stated that the terms “good moral character” and “good cause” are inherently subjective, making their alignment with the Bruen decision challenging.