Is It *Really* Impossible To Get A Gun License in NYC? (Part XII — U.S. Court of Appeals)

This is the twelfth 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), Part X (Federal Lawsuit Filed), Part XI (Federal Court Refuses Challenge). 

Total Time Spent So Far: 67 hours
Total Money Spent So Far: $2,286

appeal-brief-coverWe left off four months ago when the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed my federal challenge to New York’s gun licensing scheme.  After being denied leave to amend the complaint to fix a technical defect (because no matter what I fixed, the court would still dismiss my complaint, the court ruled), I immediately filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  The Court of Appeals is the court directly below the U.S. Supreme Court.

Once you file a notice of appeal, the parties then file briefs — first the appellant, then the appellee, and then the appellant gets to reply.  Often the court will then allow for oral arguments.  There was one more odd requirement here, which is that the Second Circuit does not let attorneys file pro se appeals without being admitted to the court, and so I had to apply for admission and pay another $221 just to represent myself.  I know of no other court with this requirement, although I don’t particularly mind being admitted to that court for future work.  I’m happy to announce that I’ve been admitted to the bar of the Second Circuit.

With that small detour taken care of, I filed my opening brief earlier this week.  I asked the Court of Appeals to consider three main points:

  1. The requirement that an applicant show “need” greater than the average citizen before they may bear arms is unconstitutional. The district court had no choice but to rule against me on this matter since the appeals court has already set (bad) precedent, but now that we’re at the appeals court, they are free to modify their existing precedent by hearing the matter with the full court (“en banc“).
  2. Several application questions were challenged as invasive fishing expeditions.  The lower court failed to apply the proper test.  The test is whether the questions are substantially related to an important government interest, and the judge essentially deferred to the NYPD as to whether there was a “substantial relation” instead of conducting her own analysis of whether the government’s interest in preventing gun crime could be accomplished even if the application were toned down.
  3. Retired NYPD gets a free pass on the “proper cause” requirement, despite the city providing no evidence that as a general matter, all retired cops have a reason greater than the average citizen to carry a gun.  This seems like an equal protection violation to me, but the district court found, without explanation, that retired cops are legally dissimilar to me and that justifies the disparity.  The city should have been required to provide some evidence of the same.

My brief was not particularly long for an appellate brief raising three distinct points, mostly because the outcome of the case is less dictated by whether my writing is compelling and more based on the outcome of a case about to be heard in the U.S. Supreme Court in 6 weeks: N.Y.S. Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. City of New York.  In NYSPRA, several NYC gun owners with “premise” licenses (allowing them to keep guns at home but not carry them) sued the city for preventing them from taking their guns to gun ranges outside the city or to second homes.  NYC is unique in the entire country for its law preventing premises owners from transporting their guns — even unloaded in a locked container in the trunk of their car — and whether such a law is constitutional turns on whether the way the Second Circuit has looked at gun rights cases is correct.  A win for NYSPRA would require the Second Circuit to take a new approach in my case, and most legal commentators expect the Supreme Court is likely to reverse the Second Circuit here, based on the addition of two conservative judges and based on the court’s slapping down of several pre-argument motions by the city begging them not to hear the case.

I’ve also asked the Second Circuit to withhold judgment until NYSPRA is decided.  This won’t delay the case too much, as the city still gets to file their brief and I get to reply after that, so it would be unlikely there would be a decision until 2020 anyway.  I will update you all once the opposition and reply have been filed.

Corbett v. City of New York – Appellant’s Brief (.pdf)

9 thoughts on “Is It *Really* Impossible To Get A Gun License in NYC? (Part XII — U.S. Court of Appeals)

Add yours

  1. Keep up the good fight! You may just be blazing a trail for the rest of us!

    Boomie Pinter 917-626-1710 Sent from my iPad


  2. We all Know NYPD is the leader in Police Corruption and Hate anyone that has the same life saving opportunity like they do, to meet deadly force with deadly force.

    They swear that a badge qualifies them and the right to save their families in a needed situation.

    They are all selfish, Including everyone else in Politics, Law Enforcement, who carry a firearm but are not at risks like normal everyday citizens who are victims are harsh and deadly crimes.

    I am ready to leave NYC after 51 years of being a helpless Victim with zero defense.

    Thank you for your effort. What we need is a Movement here. Like the Women did to vote. If we can get Members of the NRA to March against NYC Unconstitutional Gun Laws, then maybe we will have a chance.

  3. Keep up the good work. Butting heads against the city takes massive tungsten balls.

    Something you might be interested in; possession of air pistols and air rifles requires some form of license from the NYPD. NYC Administrative Code §10-131(b). It’s fairly broad and the scope is anything propelling a projectile with springs or air. It seems to apply to paintball guns, airsoft guns, and even the stupid pen guns kids make in elementary school. What about super soakers? Most of them are hand-pumped pneumatic systems that propel water with air. Is water a projectile?

    I first learned about this anomaly several years ago when someone told me about paintballing groups. Many young people in this city that enjoy these sports. But here’s the fascinating part: I could never find evidence of anyone owning a legit air gun license. Not in text, not in pictures! As far as anyone knows they’re not even issued. I’d FOIA this information but I’m a massive pussy and I don’t want my name anywhere. If someone can prove air gun licenses are not in common circulation then this law should be easy to fix. Public challenge!

    So how do those hobby groups exist? Simple, they’re in legal limbo. Any individuals possessing air guns are doing so illegally but the NYPD generally doesn’t enforce that section of the law. To make things more complicated paintballers and airsofters tend to have a large underage demographic so applying the law properly is rendered more difficult.

    Nothing is sacred.

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