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Liberal Groups File Court Opposition To NY Gun Control Law Requiring Disclosure Of Social Media Accounts

Liberal Groups File Court Opposition To NY Gun Control Law Requiring Disclosure Of Social Media Accounts

Free Speech Institute at Columbia University files Extremely Persuasive Appellate Amicus Brief Excoriating New York’s New Gun Control Law for Violating the First Amendment

As we previously covered in detail, on June 23 of last year the United States Supreme Court, in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, struck down New York’s gun control statute, which almost completely prohibited concealed firearm carry. In the Court’s opinion, authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, New York’s requirement that a carry permit applicant “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community” violated the Second Amendment. The central holding of the case was clear: “We…now hold, consistent with Heller and McDonald, that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”

The usual suspects, as we reported, were not happy:

In fact, as we reported, blue states including New York, California, and others, whose gun control statutes were null and void, went to work to enact new statutes working around the Supreme Court’s opinion: Some Blue States Already Trying to Work Around SCOTUS 2nd Amendment Ruling.

The State of New York’s Response to Bruen

In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” (“CCIA”) eight days after Bruen issued, which the Legislature had rushed through “before legislators, or the public, were able to review the text of the bill,” as we covered here: New York Democrats Undermine Supreme Court 2nd Amendment Ruling In New Legislation.

This new law, “intended to thwart the SCOTUS decision,” prohibits concealed carry in “sensitive places” such as “health care facilities; houses of worship; colleges and universities; places where children gather, such as schools, day care centers, playgrounds, parks and zoos; public transportation; places where alcohol or cannabis is consumed; and theaters, concerts, casinos and other entertainment venues.” It also prohibits concealed carry “in any business that does not post a sign saying it’s OK.”

Additionally, although “SCOTUS struck down the prior law as giving too much discretion to the state,…the new legislation has plenty of fuzzy, judgmental standards that reestablish discretion,” such as…add[ing] new requirements for New Yorkers to receive a concealed carry permit, including 16 hours of training on how to handle a handgun, two hours of firing range training, an in-person interview and a written exam, as well as a review of social media accounts.”

As we concluded when the new law was passed, these requirements, taken as a whole mean that “basically, you cannot actually carry. The entire scheme is a willful and knowing evasion of a constitutional right.”

Post-CCIA Litigation Finds New Statute Unconstitutional

Of course, litigation ensued, and in October, as we reported, “U.S. District Court Judge Glenn Suddaby found critical parts of New York’s gun law, the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA), unconstitutional.” Not only did Northern District of New York Judge Suddaby, in Antonyuk v. Hochul, strike down almost all of the “sensitive places” prohibitions in the law, he also “blocked the part where applicants must prove “good moral character” and allow authorities to review their social media profiles.” That 184-page court decision, on Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction, can be found here.

As expected, New York appealed, and oral argument for that appeal will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on March 20, 2023. The court has also joined this case with several other appeals, after parallel litigation was brought by other plaintiffs in other courts fighting specific parts of the law. Here is a summary:

Another case, Bleuer v. Nigrelli, before Judge Thomas McAvoy in the Northern District of New York, litigating the constitutionality of prohibiting carry in houses of worship, has been stayed by Judge McAvoy pending the outcome of the appeals outlined.*

Amicus Brief Attacking the CCIA Filed by Knight Institute At Columbia University and Other Liberal Groups

In a stunning turn of events, a press release from The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University explains that the Institute has just, along with five other gun rights organizations, filed an amicus (friends of the court) brief in the Second Circuit in Antonyuk v. HochulKnight Institute, Gun Owners’ Associations Urge Second Circuit to Block NY Gun Law’s Social Media Disclosure Requirement.

From the press release:

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University today filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that a part of New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act that requires applicants to register their social media…with the government is unconstitutional…

‘While New York plainly has a legitimate interest in regulating concealed carry, its regulations must conform to the First Amendment, and this particular provision of New York’s new gun law does not,’ said Anna Diakun, staff attorney at the Knight Institute. ‘Not only has the state failed to demonstrate that the social media registration requirement will actually further its goals, but it has also failed to acknowledge its costs: It will have a profound impact on the right to speak anonymously and associate privately online, and it will invite discrimination by licensing officials.’

‘The state’s dragnet social media registration requirement goes far beyond what is necessary, and will set a dangerous precedent for broad intrusions on individuals’ First Amendment rights,’ said Katie Fallow, senior counsel at the Knight Institute. ‘If the New York law is allowed to stand, one can easily imagine the government imposing these requirements in any number of other situations.’

The gun rights organizations signing onto Columbia’s amicus brief include:

  1. The Liberal Gun Club, which “provides a voice for gun-owning liberals and moderates in the national conversation on gun rights,…[and] serves as a national forum for discussion of firearms ownership, firearms use, and the enjoyment of firearms-related activities free from political extremism”;
  2. The DC Project Foundation, which “is a coalition of female gun owners from all fifty states dedicated to protecting and preserving their Second Amendment rights [and that] advocates for firearms safety and violence prevention achieved through education, not legislation, encourages the preservation of America’s gun culture, and highlights the diversity and rising demographic of female gun owners”;
  3. The Asian Pacific American Gun Owners Association (“APAGOA“), which “is a community of Asian Pacific Americans who own guns and advocate for safe and responsible gun ownership”;
  4. The National African American Gun Association (“NAAGA“), which “was founded to defend the Second Amendment rights of members of the African American community [and whose] mission is to educate about the rich legacy of gun ownership by African Americans, to offer training that supports safe gun use for self-defense and sportsmanship, and to advocate for the inalienable right to self defense for African Americans. NAAGA has over 50,000 members, and chapters in thirty-eight states”; and
  5. Operation Blazing Sword–Pink Pistols (“OBSPP“), which “comprises two organizations, Operation Blazing Sword and Pink Pistols, which together advocate on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (“LGBTQ”) firearm owners, with specific emphasis on self-defense issues,” and which “maintains a network of over 1,500 volunteer firearm instructors in nearly a thousand locations across all fifty states” and “honors gender and sexual diversity and advocates for the responsible use of firearms for self-defense.”

Columbia’s excellent brief, available here, explains to the court that “the statute compels applicants to direct the State to a record of their online speech and associations. The natural and predictable result of this requirement is that applicants will refrain from speech or  associations online that they fear may be held against them in the application process or that they do not believe should be subject to government inspection. This is of urgent concern to amici gun owners’ associations, which represent Asian Pacific Americans, African Americans, women, LGBTQ individuals, and politically active individuals—some of whom have particular reasons to distrust law enforcement and to fear the government’s scrutiny of their online lives.”

The brief tellingly quotes a Justice Sonia Sotomayor concurrence from a 2012 Supreme Court case called United States v. Jones, in which the Justice stated that “Awareness that the government may be watching chills associational and expressive freedoms. And the government’s unrestrained power to assemble data that reveal private aspects of identity is susceptible to abuse.”

We will report on the March 20 proceedings in the Second Circuit, but at this point it seems unlikely that the CCIA’s social media requirement will survive, given that New York has already lost a federal judge, Columbia University, an LGBT gun rights group, and others.


* In the one case where the court found the CCIA constitutional, Gazzola, which concerns firearms dealers, the court found that new requirements for firearms licenses, gathering of information on ammunition purchasers, and other requirements, which had markedly reduced firearms and ammunition sales, did not constitute “irreparable harm” for the purposes of Plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction motion.


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UnCivilServant | February 15, 2023 at 9:15 am

I wonder whether the court would ever get annoyed to the point of going “That’s it, you’re going to constitutional carry”.

Does a preclearance requirement on new anti-gun legislation need to be legislated, or can it be imposed for epeated malicious defiance of the court in attacking citizens’ rights?

    CommoChief in reply to UnCivilServant. | February 15, 2023 at 9:27 am

    The pre clearance angle is an interesting one. The stubborn refusal of some States to stop violating the rights of their Citizens does have some historical parallels with voting rights. It seems the d/prog just can’t stop themselves from civil rights violations without Court intervention. A new pre clearance regime may be the answer to stopping their gamesmanship.

      DaveGinOly in reply to CommoChief. | February 15, 2023 at 11:49 am

      The constant blowback of new legislation, in the teeth of court recognition of 2nd Amendment rights, is a form of contempt of court.

    henrybowman in reply to UnCivilServant. | February 15, 2023 at 9:31 am

    You mean, like taking control over how a state districts itself or handles its elections?
    Naw, never happen in favor of the Second Amendment. Only crap that liberals like.

There’s a fatal flaw in the lefty first-amendment types’ argument: Why is the first amendment more important than the second? If they’re OK with violating the second amendment because “think of the children”, then why not the first too? If “common sense regulations” can override the second, why can’t they override the first?

You have to take both amendments together. One is not more important than the other. And both are more important than saving lives, because if they weren’t then we would never have had a revolution and we would never go to war to defend our liberty, so we wouldn’t have any.

    inspectorudy in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2023 at 9:58 am

    It has been written that the 2nd was written to protect the 1st. So no, one is not more important than the other.

    DaveGinOly in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2023 at 12:00 pm

    And SCOTUS has ruled that it is unconstitutional to require the surrender of one constitutional right (e.g., right to bear arms) in order to exercise another (e.g., attend a house of worship, or to travel peacefully for the purpose of civil and commercial intercourse within the community).

    Additionally, I’d argue the government has no authority to even know if I am exercising a right, and as little authority to know how I may be exercising it.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2023 at 12:36 pm

    “There’s a fatal flaw in the lefty first-amendment types’ argument: Why is the first amendment more important than the second?”

    That’s important. That’s like every clause is in operation on every issue — not something the “tile your head and squint to make it legal” folks will much like.

    George_Kaplan in reply to Milhouse. | February 15, 2023 at 9:13 pm

    What Lefty first amendment types? The Left seem to want to reinterpret what the 1st means, and who is entitled to its protection.

If you or I aggressively deprived another citizen their civil rights, the federal DOJ would bring the pain and criminally prosecute us.

New York’s New Gun Control Law no less aggressively deprives citizens’ express civil rights as enumerated by the US Constitution these politicos took an oath to uphold.

‘Qualified immunity’ has become a shield of bs politicos hide behind to impose all manner of abuse against citizens.

Until the federal DOJ brings the pain and criminally prosecutes these aggressive deprivations of citizens’ civil rights it’s all just **clown world.**.

I think individual and class action suits should
Be filled for every murder of an American citizen for the Government refusing to use the laws already written to keep guns out of felons hands
I get that some may be , if not many, bought unlawfully, but they are not enacting present laws and allowing the murder, as recently at Michigan University,
They only understand money, and lots of the Benjamin’s…

So, where’s the ACLU in all of this?

    UnCivilServant in reply to NotCoach. | February 15, 2023 at 1:37 pm

    Probably composing an Amicus Brief on how not only is the law totally okay, but they could have gone further.

    Milhouse in reply to NotCoach. | February 15, 2023 at 5:51 pm

    Even in its heyday, when it was genuinely defending civil liberties, it defined its purview as including only the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments (and maybe the eighth). It left the second for other groups that specialized in that.

    And now it has reverted to its communist origins, so it’s not even defending those amendments any more.

    Gosport in reply to NotCoach. | February 16, 2023 at 1:56 am

    Who? /s

They think that they can abort the baby… fetal-baby, cannibalize her profitable parts, sequester her carbon pollutants, and have her, too. Good luck playing with a double-edged scalpel.

The Gentle Grizzly | February 15, 2023 at 11:08 am

The National African American Gun Association (“NAAGA“)

Did they think that name, and thus, the initials through carefully?

There it is…

“demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community”

Fundamentally, these fascisti think of masses, peoples, the volk; for whom they speak, and are a vanguard for what is yet to be.

— All laws are general, not specific; based on categories, not actions.

— They are about telling you what to do, however they dress it up.

— To escape any particular mandate, you must be outside the category for which this mandate applies; you are never outside their speaking for what is better for you, they having greater access to the spirit of the people, the essence of the volk, the right side of history, even.

— Because they are the science authoritah that you do not, you need to convince them you are outside the category for which they have spoken. Not that they’re wrong; they can’t be and who are you to have a take on things, anyway?

This woman is as batsh-t crazy as Pelosi, and just as big a megalomaniac.

Sorry, you voted for this mouth breathing failure in life. Now you get to live with the consequences.

In other words “elections have consequences”. No love for you and if you head south as more and more of your failed state are doing please don’t bring the attitude and voting with you.

Well, at least they changed “deplorables” to “general community.” /s

Liberals opposed, or so it might appear, to the fairytale that is Gun Control? Can one imagine that? Recognition of error marks the beginning of wisdom, or so it has been claimed. One wonders if the referenced recognition is here evident.

Regarding the antics of both the governor and attorney general, as referenced to by another commentator, both offices are filled via the electoral process, even in The Empire State. As has been elsewhere noted, people tend to get the sort of governments they didn’t vote against.