This is the tenth installment of a series documenting an ordinary New Yorker attempting to exercise his Second Amendment rights: Part I (license application), Part II (application rejected), Part III (the lawsuit), Part IV (appeal filed), Part V (appellate briefing complete), Part VI (N.Y. Appeals Court Not Interested in Ending NYPD Corruption), Part VII (Corruption? You Can’t Prove It!), Part VIII (appeal to N.Y. high court), Part IX (N.Y. Court of Appeals won’t hear).
In June, New York’s highest court refused to hear my challenge to New York City’s practice of giving gun licenses only to those with the right “connections” to the government — connections being bribe money, literally being a rock star, or just having friends in the right places. Since the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that Second Amendment rights are applicable to individuals without regards to “militia membership” in 2008, the New York Court of Appeals has plugged its ears to literally every case to come before it that asked the court to conform New York law to the Supreme Court’s mandate (as they must).
My state remedies now exhausted, I turn to the federal courts for help. This morning, I filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the City for its refusal to allow the ordinary, law-abiding citizen to arm themselves.
Full Complaint: Corbett v. City of New York – Complaint with Exhibits (.pdf)
If you’ve been following along, many of the arguments match up with those in the New York courts. But, there’s a couple new things.
First, there have been some good decisions in other federal courts as of recent. On the west coast, the 9th Circuit last month struck down Hawaii’s ban on citizen gun licenses in Young v. Hawaii (.pdf). On the east coast, the D.C. Circuit struck down the same last year in Washington D.C. in Wrenn v. D.C. These updates may or may not persuade the 2nd Circuit that covers New York, but they definitely make it more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case.
Second, I’m adding a new equal protection claim that I don’t think has ever been brought here. “Equal protection” is a part of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that requires the government to treat everybody similarly unless there are really good reasons not to. In this case, the main problem is New York’s “proper cause” requirement, which (in New York City and a handful of other counties in the state) demands that citizens show a reason greater than that of an ordinary citizen to get a license. However, New York City exempts retired police officers from this proper cause requirement, even though there’s really no logical relationship between being a retired cop and “needing” a gun. This brings up a classic equal protection scenario: if the NYPD wants to let its retired cops carry, it has to let me carry too. If the court agrees, the City may have a choice between taking away guns from retirees or giving us plebs our constitutional rights — a political quagmire indeed.
The case is no. 18-CV-7022 and was assigned to U. S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla, an Obama appointee. The City will be served today and will have 3 weeks to craft a reply. More updates then.