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NY’s Illogical Gun Laws

August 20, 2015

Lawsuit Shines Light On Illogical State Gun Laws
by Rod Watson | News Urban Affairs Editor

Gun control advocates insist they simply want “common sense” restrictions.  But there’s not much sense – common or otherwise – in New York State’s gun laws, consistently rated as among the nation’s strictest.

The Erie County Libertarian Party’s federal lawsuit, at the very least, will put a spotlight on the capricious nature of the state’s pistol permit process and the totally unnecessary burdens it puts on law-abiding citizens.  Even before the SAFE Act, the state’s law was a mess.

It makes no sense in an age on instantaneous data searches – in which your life is an electronic open book – to make applicants wait a year or more to pass a background check and get a pistol permit.  Yet that’s how long it takes in many New York counties.

And what if you are a law-abiding recluse who moves into the county – or from one suburb to another – and want a permit?  You could be out of luck.  State law mandates four character references from within the county, while some suburbs take it even further, insisting that all or at least half your references not only live in Erie County but also reside in your town or city.

How can a fundamental right like the Second Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, be subject to something as whimsical as whether or not you’ve made new friends after moving?  You won’t find that requirement anywhere in the Federalist Papers.

Then there are the law’s vague provisions demanding “good moral character” and allowing denial of a permit for “good cause,” both of which seem to violate the 14th Amendment’s due process mandate by giving bureaucrats such undefined discretion.  As the suit notes, a right that requires “prior permission of the government … is a right that has ceased to exist.”

And what has New York’s law accomplished?  Are Buffalo and New York City crime-free because of what the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranks as the nation’s fifth most restrictive set of laws?

New York’s handgun law is ripe for judicial review.  And while gun control advocates point to a litany of litigation that has failed to overturn most provisions, attorney James Ostrowski said most of those cases were heard in state courts, under judges appointed by New York’s generally liberal politicians.

“I don’t believe any of these issues have been litigated in federal court,” said Ostrowski, who represents the Libertarian Party and the seven other plaintiffs.

If they prevail, Ostrowski said the court could toss any or all parts of New York’s law and replace it with a simpler, faster process, such as an FBI criminal background check and a mental health review.  That could relieve the county’s overworked five-member Pistol Permit Office, which handled 2,712 applications in 2013 when the SAFE Act took effect, and another 1,815 last year.  It also could relieve local police agencies, which put such background checks at the bottom of their to-do lists.

Such changes would mean competent, law-abiding citizens wouldn’t have to wait a year to buy a handgun for protection in high-crime areas.

Nor would they have to find four friends willing to subject themselves to police scrutiny just to be references for someone trying to exercise what is supposed to be a Constitutional right.

New York politicians often talk about the need for “sensible” gun laws.  Maybe a federal judge will finally give us one.

Click here, for the original article on The Buffalo News.

Lawsuit Shines Light On Illogical State Gun Laws
by Rod Watson | News Urban Affairs Editor

Gun control advocates insist they simply want “common sense” restrictions.  But there’s not much sense – common or otherwise – in New York State’s gun laws, consistently rated as among the nation’s strictest.

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