Supreme Court declines to take up appeal from gun dealers against restrictive New York concealed carry laws

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to take up an appeal from New York gun dealers against the state’s overly restrictive new concealed carry laws that were hastily crafted last year in response to the high court knocking down its previous restrictive permitting scheme, Reuters reported.

There were no noted dissents or explanations from any of the nine justices about why the court had decided not to take up this particular application for relief of a law that pretty clearly violates the Second Amendment.

New York’s even more restrictive concealed carry laws

In June 2022, the Supreme Court issued its landmark New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen ruling that struck down the Empire State’s restrictive “proper cause” requirement to obtain a concealed carry permit, recognized that people had the right to carry firearms in public, and established a new “historical tradition” test for measuring the constitutionality of all firearms regulations.

Yet, in response to that ruling, the New York state legislature swiftly passed the misnamed Concealed Carry Improvement Act which is arguably even more broadly restrictive against the rights of gun owners and sparked numerous legal challenges, including from a group of licensed gun dealers and antique firearms collectors in the state.

In this particular case, the dealers are challenging the law’s requirements that they install expensive security alarm systems and maintain extensive sales records that will admittedly be used as the basis for an unconstitutional state firearms registry.

Reuters noted that a district court had refused to issue a requested preliminary block against those provisions and an appeal of that decision had been similarly rejected by the 2nd Circuit, hence the application for relief with the Supreme Court that has now also been denied.

Challengers “disappointed” by “unfortunate” decision

Paloma Capanna, the lead attorney for the New York gun dealers, told Fox News on Wednesday, “We are disappointed that not one of the nine justices saw fit to grant the plaintiffs some stay of enforcement of the new laws against them.”

“We are challenging the ability of the state of New York to target dealers in firearms in the lawful stream of commerce, to put them out of business, which is what the new laws will do,” the attorney continued. “So it really was unfortunate to see that we couldn’t get any emergency temporary injunction against those laws.”

Capanna added, “The list of new mandatory compliance even goes so far as a turnover of acquisition and disposition records … which the state of New York attorneys have admitted will be used to create the first-ever gun owners registry housed at the New York State Police.”

Letting the process play out … for now

SCOTUSblog reported just one week earlier that the Supreme Court had similarly declined to take up an appeal from a group of gun owners against a 2nd Circuit panel’s stay of a district court’s ruling in their favor to preliminarily block numerous provisions within New York’s restrictive new concealed carry laws.

While the rejection of the application for relief in the case of Antonyuk v. Nigrelli had also been unanimous, it did include a statement from Justice Samuel Alito that was joined by Justice Clarence Thomas that seemed to explain why the appeal had been rejected and to send a rather clear message to both the applicants and the 2nd Circuit court.

Alito noted that New York’s law “presents novel and serious questions under both the First and the Second Amendments” and that the “thorough opinion” of the district court strongly indicated that the applicants were “likely to succeed on a number of their claims” — yet, without explanation, the 2nd Circuit stayed the lower court’s injunction even as it ordered “expedited briefing” on the merits of the case.

“I understand the Court’s denial today to reflect respect for the Second Circuit’s procedures in managing its own docket, rather than expressing any view on the merits of the case,” Alito concluded. “Applicants should not be deterred by today’s order from again seeking relief if the Second Circuit does not, within a reasonable time, provide an explanation for its stay order or expedite consideration of the appeal.”

In other words, Justice Alito put the 2nd Circuit on notice that it was expected to do its job in a timely fashion and with an explanation for its decision-making while he also let the challengers know that the Supreme Court would eventually intervene if the appeals court continued to drag its feet in this matter — a sentiment that likely also applies to the separate challenge from the gun dealers.