Mr. Wright is a resident of New York State, and, as we previously mentioned, in Part Two of this multi-part series article, he lives in Nassau County, but his corporate offices are in New York City. MrWright first sought to obtain a concealed handgun carry license for his hometown, in Nassau County, Long Island, New York. And, he believed, logically, that once he secured the license, the license would be valid through the entirety of New York, at least, if not valid in any other State. Simple enough, you might think. Simple enough, Mr. Wright thought. Mr. Wright was wrong in his assessment. As he found out, through some digging, New York does not issue one concealed handgun carry license that is good throughout the State for most individuals, unless they are retired, qualified police officers or retired, qualified federal law enforcement officers. Of course, current active-duty New York police officers and current active-duty law-enforcement officers do not require a license to carry a firearm. Their badge and ID is license enough to carry anywhere in the State.
Mr. Wright soon learned that a concealed handgun carry license that is issued by the County of Nassau would allow Mr. Wright to carry a handgun concealed in Nassau County and in all Counties within the State of New York, but would not allow him to carry a handgun concealed in any of the five Boroughs of New York City. So, Mr. Wright first decided that, as it made sense for him at least, at the outset, to obtain a concealed handgun carry license in his hometown of Nassau County, he would begin there. If Mr. Wright wishes to carry a handgun anywhere within the five Boroughs of New York City, he would unload his handgun and place it in a locked container during a continuous and uninterrupted trip through the city’s five boroughs. Ammunition must be stored in its own locked container. Both the handgun and ammunition should be stored in the trunk of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not have a trunk, the locked containers must be kept the furthest distance as possible from your person. Of course, Mr. Wright did not know this at the time, but would learn just how complicated and convoluted the laws of New York City, in particular, are, once he became knowledgeable of the City’s firearms’ Rules.
So, Mr. Wright went about the arduous task of obtaining a concealed handgun carry license in Nassau County. Mr. Wright learned that the Nassau County Police Department is the issuing agency authorized by law to grant handgun licenses in the county. Mr. Wright then learned that the holder of a valid license may carry a handgun loaded in all counties in the State of New York, except for all five boroughs of the City of New York. Mr. Wright could download an application and, as well, for a handgun license, but once completed, he realized that he personally had to go to the Police Department’s headquarters located at 1490 Franklin Avenue, Mineola, New York 11501 to file it. Mr. Wright also downloaded Nassau County’s “Pistol License Section Handbook.” During some off-time, during the weekend, Mr. Wright sat down to read the “Handbook.”
Mr. Wright learned that the Nassau County Police Department issues six types of handgun licenses: one, “Target/Hunting License;” two, “Business License;” three, “Restricted Business License for Armed Guard & Armored Car Guard;” four, “Civilian Full Carry License;” five, “Retired Police Officer/Federal Law Enforcement Officer License;” and, six, “Retired Peace Officer License.”
Mr. Wright reviewed the requirements for each type of license and the restrictions, if any, on the licenses. Mr. Wright found it easy enough to rule out several licenses. Since he resided in Nassau County, but his business was in New York, he decided that he would like to apply for a “Civilian Full Carry License.”
Mr. Wright then reviewed the actual “PISTOL LICENSE APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS” that he had printed out along with the “Handbook.” From a quick scan of the Handbook, Mr. Wright ascertained, immediately, that the Application did not provide any space allocation for setting down the type of handgun license the applicant wished to apply for. Mr. Wright wondered, then, whether the “Application” was, for all intents and purposes, an initial application and that, based on Mr. Wright’s responses, and on the basis of the Nassau County Police Department’s initial investigation of him, the Application would either be accepted for further processing, or his Application for a pistol license – any kind of a pistol license – would be summarily rejected. But, Mr. Wright, realized that his initial assessment was wrong, once, after a cursory inspection of the Handbook, he carefully read and memorized important details. He noticed that, on the very first page of the handbook, the NCPD had this to say:
“Please note that while pistol licenses are processed as quickly as possible, the present processing time is approximately six (6) months. All applicants will be sent a notice as soon as their license is ready. PLEASE DO NOT CALL TO INQUIRE AS TO THE STATUS OF A PENDING APPLICATION.”
Mr. Wright’s gaze was drawn to a particular sentence that wasn’t in bold type: “All applicants will be sent a notice as soon as their license is ready.” This sentence proclaimed that the NCPD would, itself, determine what kind of license it would issue to an Applicant, if a handgun license would be issued at all. So, Mr. Wright reasoned, he would not have any choice in the matter after all. The next day Mr. Wright phoned the NCPD and asked to speak to an Officer with the “Pistol License Section” of the NCPD. Once connected to the appropriate Officer, Mr. Wright explained that he was reading through the handbook and he was aware that the NCPD issues six types of handgun licenses and that he is aware of only two that could feasibly apply to him: the “target/hunting license” and the “civilian full carry license.” Mr. Wright explained that he wanted a handgun for self-defense, adding that he was not interested in hunting or for plinking at targets. The Officer replied in an offhanded way that, if Mr. Wright qualified for a license at all, he would not be receiving a “civilian full carry license.” Mr. Wright wanted to know why that is. The Officer pointed out that very few of those are issued. Mr. Wright asked him if the NCPD obtains many requests for “civilian full carry licenses.” The Officer stated that, in fact, many New York residents do want full carry licenses but very few are ever issued. “Who,” Mr. Wright asked, “receives ‘civilian full carry licenses.” The Officer replied: “judges and politicians.” Mr. Wright thanked the Officer for his time and for his honesty and, once he hung up the telephone, he wondered if it would be worthwhile for him to spend the time, which would be considerable, and a sum of money, which would not be inconsiderable, to apply for a handgun license at all, in his own home town, if, at best, he would receive nothing more than a “target/hunting license.” Mr. Wright decided that he would complete the application process.
In continuing to read through the application process, it was very clear to Mr. Wright that, if a person, was to receive a handgun license at all – any kind of license, that person would need to be literally squeaky clean. Indeed, one question required Mr. Wright to indicate whether he had received a traffic violation within the last five years and “traffic violation” included “traffic infractions.” This was what the Handbook set forth:
“An applicant for the issuance of a pistol license must:
Note: The NCPD may alter a licensee’s classification at any time upon a finding that proper cause/legitimate business necessity no longer exists. Proper cause, like any license requirement stated herein, must be demonstrated each time the license is renewed and at any time upon request by NCPD Pistol License Section personnel. If proper cause is not proven, the license will be modified accordingly to reflect the appropriate classification.
Note: If an applicant is being treated by a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, he or she must obtain a letter of “no objection” from that caregiver.
Mr. Wright could deduce from the nature of the questions in the handbook, which were mirrored in thirteen questions that required a simple “yes” or “no” answer, that a “yes” answer was sufficient grounds for immediate disqualification for any handgun license. And, if an applicant were to lie, in the hope that the NCPD might not, through its investigation, uncover the deception – well – the NCPD had that possibility covered as well, for the “Pistol License Application Questionnaire” set forth this:
“ANY OMISSION OF FACT OR ANY FALSE STATEMENT WILL BE SUFFICIENT CAUSE TO DENY THIS APPLICATION AND CONSTITUTES A CRIME PUNISHABLE BYFINE, IMPRISONMENT OR BOTH.”
Mr. Wright, who is a man of impeccable integrity and honesty would never lie; nor had he need to. He could honestly answer, “no” to each question. Mr. Wright’s main concern – indeed – Mr. Wright’s only concern was that he would likely not receive a “civilian full carry license.”
Having reviewed both the Application Questionnaire and the “Pistol License Section Handbook” in depth, Mr. Wright, who was also a man who was methodical and meticulous in attending to details decided that if he were to enhance his prospect for obtaining a civilian full carry license, he should consult with both an attorney and with a professional organization adept at understanding and handling the intricate process of obtaining a handgun license.
At the end of the day, after waiting the full six months to obtain a handgun license, issued by the NCPD, Mr. Wright obtained his handgun license: a “target/hunting license.” He was unable to obtain a “civilian full carry license” as issued by Nassau County, his own hometown. Had he been a judge or a politician, instead of a mere “businessman,” as the NCPD Officer explained to him, the outcome would likely have been different. Apparently, the NCPD has determined that the life of a politician or a judge is more valuable than that of an American citizen who is only a businessman. One can only wonder what the founders of this Republic would have said about that!
If Mr. Wright wished to acquire a handgun license for self-defense, he realized that he would have to obtain one in another New York jurisdiction. As his business was located in New York City and, as his attorney and other specialists suggested that his opportunity for securing an unrestricted “full carry” license may actually be better once he applied for a handgun license as issued by the NYPD, Mr. Wright now used considerable energy and resources to obtain what he hoped would culminate in his first unrestricted full carry concealed handgun carry license.
In the back of his mind Mr. Wright was more than a trifle upset that he – an honest, law-abiding American citizen and a successful businessman who has helped fill the State and City and County coffers with substantial tax dollars, much of which would go to the very police departments bestowed with the singular power to determine how much value to place on his life – should deny him the right of access to a handgun simply that he might exercise his right under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and deny him one of the most basic of human imperatives: the impulse to defend one’s own life.
Would the NYPD treat Mr. Wright just as curtly? Mr. Wright aimed to find out. In the next subpart of this multi-series article, we will discuss Mr. Wright’s experiences involving his application for a New York City unrestricted, “full carry,” concealed handgun license.
We ought to have as a primary objective the opening of a fissure in the last 10 Won’t-Issue jurisdictions: DC; NYC; NJ; MD; HI; and to lesser extents NYState and CA.
I part company with the Constitutional-Carry advocates who seem to think that nothing short of Con-Carry is worth-while. I think success is far more likely to come from incremental inroads that can be accomplished sooner rather than later.
National Reciprocity seems to be foreseeable; a year or two away, maybe a few years away. If so, then we ought to work on that. However, NR might be a bridge too far; Congress might string us along indefinitely.
What are the prospects for some lesser inroads?
How about a Federal law mandating non-resident carry permits on a Shall-Issue and non-discrimanatory basis? The argument might be that State X might discriminate against its own residents by granting May-Issue permits only to its rich and influential residents. Perhaps that is it’s States’ Rights. Yet, it is discriminating against equally worthy residents of States Y and Z. A non-discrimination Constitutional argument could be offered that residents of States Y and Z ought to be Shall-Issued a permit in State X on terms no less favorable than those imposed on its own citizens. State X could raise its fees from $100 to $500; but this would be limited by the forbearance of its rich and influential residents. State X could raise its training requirements from 8 to 48 hours; but likewise, it’s limited by forbearance of its residents. State X might not put up too much opposition to such a Federal law expecting that only a few non-residents would undertake to overcome the hurdles they would plan to put into place. Nevertheless, once the fissure is opened, the number of non-residents would rise creating a fracture. Poor and non-influential residents would begin to pressure more liberal May-Issue policies.
How about litigation against such Won’t-Issue States on some discriminatory grounds? Do the Donald Trumps really meet the training and qualifications standards passed by armed couriers? What pretext do they claim? “I’m rich.” “I carry large sums of money.” “I wear expensive jewelry.” We might conceded that there is a privacy concern. However, this privacy concern is in large part a smoke-screen for the fact that May-Issue discretion is purely arbitrary or based on politics. If the judiciary could be persuaded to open a fissure of daylight onto the criteria heretofore found to be qualifying then that could be made to reveal the low-water-mark. E.g., if a politically-connected businessman was permitted based on a claim of carrying $10,000 then that amount of money being carried becomes qualifying. Non-influential applicants could meet that criteria and be issued. If the jurisdiction issued just 1 permit to a person who: had once been threatened; wears jewelry; is a criminal defense lawyer; carries cash deposits of $X, then we have enough low-water-marks to open access to everyone who meets one of these criteria.
MarkPA, You raise interesting Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment due process issues and Fourteenth Amendment equal protection issues. And, there is another and more basic problem. We run into an unavoidable conundrum when talking about universal concealed handgun carry reciprocity at all, as this involves and invokes the notion of “licensing.” But, licensing the possession of firearms turns a sacred natural right, codified in the Second Amendment, into a mere grant or privilege bestowed on one by a governmental body. Thus, the licensing of firearms in any form is antithetical to the import of the Second Amendment, and degrades it. In no other Constitution or similar document or set of documents of any other Nation on this planet, that I am aware of, does the principle exist, recognizing ownership of and possession of firearms as a right preexistent in the People. Rather, if the Constitution of a Nation talks about gun ownership and possession among individuals at all, it is in the context of a grant to own and possess a firearm — that is to say a privilege, not a right — bestowed on a person by the State or by the “Body Politic.” So, once the licensing of firearms is implemented, universally, be it State-by-State — where each State recognizes the legitimacy of a license to carry a handgun concealed, as validly issued by any other State — or be it through issuance of a single Federal license to carry that each State recognizes as valid, that license, then, can be revoked, essentially at will, because the right to carry stems from the issuing authority — a governmental or public corporate body — and is not pre-existent in the individual. Do you see the problem? Thus, the conundrum; thus, my concern.
I perceive this argument to be creating a problem by definition, and then arguing against it. What is this thing we might call a “license” or a “permit”? In some cases a license is granted arbitrarily allowing the holder a monopoly; and, in such cases I share your objections. In most cases a license is legally or de facto “Shall-Issue” and seems simply to certify that the holder is qualified to do something. E.g., a marriage license. Are the applicants of the prescribed age? Are they unrelated in circumstances prohibited by law? No? Well, then, Shall-Issue. In voting we are obliged to prove at least a few things: age; place of residence; perhaps citizenship. The process of voter registration serves to allow the judges of elections to screen the rolls for felons who are prohibited from voting.
I prefer to view licensing to keep and bear arms as serving merely to certify that the holder is qualified. What those qualifications might be are certainly up for debate – but this is a separate debate. As long as there is at least 1 Constitutionally-valid exclusion, then a certification scheme is not an infringement. There is at least 1 such exclusion; admittedly, the most silly. (A person who has renounced his citizenship is prohibited.)
So, I hold that one has a right-to-keep/bear and a permit/license merely certifies that fact according to the prevailing laws defining who is prohibited. Those laws are presumptively valid until we can get then overturned.
Your objection is CERTAINLY valid in the May-Issue States. That the issuing authority (e.g., the Sheriff) can refuse to issue for no reason at all or for a reason not grounded in a presumptively-Constitutional criteria, is just the kind of licensing to which you object. So, we agree as respects the jurisdictions I’ve enumerated as Won’t-Issue and to a lesser degree, some jurisdictions that refuse licenses under May-Issue laws on dubious grounds.
What shall we do about these Won’t-Issue States? Shall we threaten the that we the PotG will collectively hold-our-breath until we turn blue? Shall we knock-on-doors and try to persuade voters to demand Con-Carry from their legislators? Shall we try to persuade voters to demand National Reciprocity? Or, is there some smaller incremental approach worth considering?
Much of what I see on boards seems closest to holding-our-breath. That doesn’t seem to get us much closer to our goal. The political sentiments of the Won’t-Issue jurisdictions are so-far from being 2A friendly that it’s unlikely we will get any law pushed-through; least-of-all, a law that opens the door widely.
I suggest we look at our previous successes: the Shall-Issue laws that have swept over most of the 40 Right-to-Carry States. These laws were mostly passed with some baggage, such as fees and training requirements. Then, some of the baggage was lightened, e.g., lower training requirements. Eventually, a few of these States went Con-Carry. Now, we are down to the most resistant 10-or-so jurisdictions; places where the courts have been unsupportive. What tactics might work here?
If we could come up with some approach that just might fly with either Congress or the courts, should we rule-it-OUT because it’s substantially/slightly SHORT of a theoretically PERFECT resolution? Or, would we gain more ground more rapidly in small increments?
I hold that we have very little opportunity to move the voters (and, therefore, the legislators and judges) in these last 10 jurisdictions toward acknowledgment of the RKBA while they remain so highly restricted as they are. Reduce the restrictions slightly and allow the facts to demonstrate themselves. E.g., it’s possible that Marylanders are not so different from Virginians. If visitors from Virginia could carry in Maryland without blood in the streets it’s conceivable that some Marylanders could be issued permits without any more blood in the streets.
Such a fissure could be opened in MD by National Reciprocity. Yet, for the sake of argument here, let’s suppose we can’t-quite-get NR through either Congress or SCOTUS. Could we open a smaller fissure? Would Congress/SCOTUS/a Circuit give us Shall-Issue Non-Resident permits in MD? (Or, some other tiny opening in the barriers to obtaining a MD permit?) Could we make that smaller fissure grow larger? And then larger still?
The most foolish stance – I think – we could take is to do nothing other than wait patiently for our politicians and judges to repeal/invalidate laws.
Thank you for your perceptive remarks. For universal concealed handgun carry reciprocity to work, some sort of licensing would, it seems, be required. I am aware of that fact just as you are. But, consider, Vermont, for example, does not have a licensing provision. My basic understanding of Vermont firearms’ laws is that a resident can carry a handgun open or concealed so long as he or she does so for a lawful purpose, and is not a felon. So, if universal concealed handgun carry reciprocity is to work for residents of Vermont who wish to carry a firearm in another jurisdiction, Vermont would have to institute some sort of licensing program, however minimal that might be. But that would degrade Vermont’s firearms’ laws. Do you see the problem with licensing of any kind? Now if Vermont does not enact licensing of firearms legislation, albeit for the limited purpose of allowing its residents to carry firearms in other States, Vermont residents may still be able to overcome this problem simply by applying for and obtaining a license from another jurisdiction, assuming there are no residency requirements or, at least, requirements that a person have some tenable connection with that other State, however tenuous that connection may be.
The problem of licensing of firearms is not obviated through the elimination of the “may issue” vs. “shall issue” distinction in favor of “shall issue.” The point is that licensing to carry a firearm concealed — or, for that matter, to possess firearms at all — amounts to a de facto registration scheme of some sort. As State governments may presume that, if one has troubled himself or herself to obtain a firearms’ license at all, that person does intend to possess a firearm at some point in time, if he or she doesn’t happen to lawfully have a firearm at the time that person receives a license to carry. But the licensing authority is the ultimate arbiter of the decision to issue even in a “shall issue” jurisdiction. So, then, if confiscation of firearms ensues, then, anyone who has a license, of some sort, may, at some point in time, be paid a visit by government “firearms collections” officers. That is why I, personally, would be very much concerned if the federal government got into the picture and became the sole issuing authority for a civilian license to carry a handgun concealed, in any jurisdiction. Now, if one purpose of a license to carry a handgun, or any firearm for that matter, is to preclude gang members and convicted felons from possessing a firearm, the absence of the issuance of a license to those individuals won’t change their acquisition of firearms if gang members and convicted felons desire to obtain them. The point of the discussion here is to really think through the import and purport of licensing of firearms, generally, and handguns, particularly as applied to law-abiding Americans, apropos of the Second Amendment guarantee.
Any licensing of firearms is anathema to the Second Amendment guarantee, however minimally invasive to that guarantee, a particular licensing scheme may seem. And that is so because licensing transforms a fundamental right existent in the people into a privilege conferred by the State or by some other governmental authority or quasi-governmental body. And, what is conferred as a privilege can just as easily be revoked by the entity that granted the privilege in the first place. In any event you have offered some useful suggestions that are worthy of further study and explication. Thank you.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.