In March I wrote Part I of my journey to see if the rumors are true that it’s impossible for the average citizen to get a license to carry a handgun in New York City. Part I described the application, $430 filing fee, and then the follow-up where the City asked for more than 2 dozen additional pieces of documentation, all of which I provided but could not seem to get in touch with the NYPD officer assigned to investigate my application.
Well, just a day after posting and sharing on Twitter with a tag to NYPD’s official @NYPDnews account, which spiked traffic to the blog on the order of several thousands of viewers, I suddenly got an e-mail from the licensing officer saying that he noticed we had difficulty reaching each other and scheduling an interview. I’ll never know if making it public was what did it, but I suspect it may have helped. (BTW, if you don’t yet follow me on Twitter, add me!)
I met with Officer Barberio, who was a friendly guy and took only a few minutes of my time to tell me that my background was clear but my “reason” for wanting a license probably wouldn’t make it past the higher-ups that would have a look at the application. You see, New York law requires people who want to exercise their right to bear arms to give a reason. The reason can be self-defense, but the applicant, apparently, must show a need for self-defense greater than the average citizen. Gun licenses in New York are issued by county, and many counties apparently are lenient on this requirement, but not those comprising New York city.
Officer Barberio also clarified a few anomalies regarding the paperwork. He explained that despite the forms available from the NYPD stating that one must have a business reason for applying to carry a handgun, you can ignore that part and state a personal reason. He explained that the requirement to have your roommate’s consent, if you live with someone else, isn’t a bar to getting a license, but would result in them interviewing your roommate. And, he explained that reference letters are no longer required, even though his form letter to me weeks prior insisted that they are.
About 3 weeks later, a letter appears from the NYPD. Its title was “NOTICE OF DISAPPROVAL,” and explained the NYPD’s position regarding the requirement of showing a need. The letter cited Kachalsky v. Cacace, by which it really meant Kachalsky v. County. of Westchester, 701 F.3d 81 (2d Cir. 2012), wherein the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the provision of New York law that allowed the state to demand a “reason.”
The only problem? In the meantime, two other circuits of the Court of Appeals have ruled otherwise. Middle America got its decision in Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933 (7th Cir. 2012, Posner, J.) and the west coast got it in Peruta v. San Diego, 742 F.3d 1144 (9th Cir. 2014). Peruta is pending an en banc (larger set of judges) review that should be (re-)decided any day now. I shall wait for that decision before I file suit, and in the meantime have filed an administrative appeal with the NYPD.
Stay tuned for Part III this summer… 🙂
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