POST-BRUEN—WHAT IT ALL MEANS AND WHAT ITS IMPACT IS BOTH FOR THOSE WHO SUPPORT AND CHERISH THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS AND THOSE WHO DO NOT; THOSE WHO SEEK TO UNDERMINE AND EVENTUALLY TO DESTROY EXERCISE OF THE RIGHT AND THOSE WHO SEEK TO PRESERVE AND STRENGTHEN THE RIGHT BOTH FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR DESCENDANTS
“‘PROPER CAUSE’ IS DEAD”! “LONG LIVE ‘PROPER CAUSE’”?
Any State that would denigrate the right of the people to keep and bear arms is a throwback to monarchical tyranny—the very thing the founders of our Republic fought against. New York is one such State of the Union that operates as a throwback to monarchical tyranny.
How did this animosity toward the Second Amendment come to pass in New York? Truth to tell, it had been so for a very long time.
New York has fought against recognition of the right of the people to keep and bear arms for over one hundred years. And the State is all the worse for it.
Even as New York ostensibly extols concern for democracy and claims regard for the oppressed in society, it arguably harbors a scarcely disguised bias against the common man.
New York’s Sullivan Act, the progenitor of the present oppressive and repressive Gun Law, codified in NY CLS Penal § 400.00 et. seq. as amended (2021 Bill Text NY S.B. 1B), effective September 2, 2022, has a legacy of iniquity behind it:
“An ethnic bias lurked behind this act. There had long been an association in New York of Italians and crime, and, starting in 1903, the police routinely denied Italians permits for the carrying of pistols. In 1905 the state legitimated this bias by outlawing the possession of firearms in any public place by the foreign born (New York State 1905). The police wanted more authority to prevent the carrying of concealed handguns. Even with the existing weak legislation, the police seized 10,567 handguns between 1907 and 1910, or seven a day. The assassination attempt against Mayor William J. Gaynor in 1910 riveted the city’s attention and brought renewed calls for the regulation of handguns. . . .
A new Democratic member of the state senate from New York City, Timothy D. Sullivan, immediately proposed legislation regulating the purchase, possession, and carrying of firearms throughout the state. That ‘Big Tim’ Sullivan, one of Tammany Hall’s most prominent figures, would promote such legislation seems a sure indication of its popularity. The only hostile testimony came, not surprisingly, from gun manufacturers and sellers. The bill received broad support from the cultural and economic elite of New York, which saw it as a necessary part of the civilizing process. The Senate passed the Sullivan Act by a vote of 37 to 5 and the House by 123 to 7, and Governor John A. Dix signed it into law on May 29, 1911 (Weller 1962).
The Sullivan Act reinforced older legislation on weapons other than firearms (slingshots and such) and limitations on the ownership and carrying of firearms by aliens and minors. The Sullivan Act instituted three additions to existing firearms acts: it added pistols to section 1897 of the criminal code, making it a felony to carry concealed weapons; required residents of cities to get a permit to carry concealable firearms—though failure to do so only constituted a misdemeanor; and required those who sold pistols to first examine a permit and to keep a record of the sale recording the purchaser and firearm. In an effort to contain the spread of the ‘$ 5 specials,’ the cost of these permits was fixed at $ 10. The bill also retained the prohibition of firearm possession by aliens (New York State 1911). Based on letters and editorials in the leading newspapers, the public reaction was overwhelmingly positive.” ~“Firearms Regulation: A Historical Overview,” 28 Crime & Just. 137 (2001), by Michael A. Bellesiles, Professor of History, Emory University.
As if the Sullivan Act, as originally drafted and enacted, wasn’t bad enough, through time it became worse.
Just two years after Sullivan was enacted, the Legislature amended it “in 1913 to provide the proper-cause standard for the issuance of public carry licenses throughout New York.” ~“The Constitutional ‘Terra Incognita’ Of Discretionary Concealed Carry Laws, 2015 U. Ill. L. Rev. 909 (2015), by Brian Enright, J.D. Candidate, University of Illinois College of Law.
Until Bruen came down, ruling that New York’s “proper cause” requirement is unconstitutional, the inclusion of “proper cause” in New York’s gun law precluded issuance of a handgun carry license to a license applicant in the absence of a convincing showing of it. The expression, ‘proper cause,’ is not defined in the Sullivan Act itself. The Judiciary was left to fill in the gap. As explained by the Second Amendment scholar, David Kopel, “The text of the Sullivan Act simply requires that a person have ‘proper cause’ to possess a carry permit. In New York City, lawful self-defense is not a ‘proper cause’ unless a person has a ‘special need’ that is different from the rest of the community, a standard that was first upheld in a 1980 decision, Klenosky vs. N.Y.C. Police Department, 428 N.Y.S.2d 256 (N.Y. App. Div. 1980). Aff’d, 421 N.E.2d 503 (N.Y. 1981).” ~“Gun control and the second amendment: developments and controversies in the wake of District of Columbia v. Heller and Mcdonald v. Chicago: Article: The Great Gun Control War Of The Twentieth Century—And Its Lessons For Gun Laws Today,” 39 Fordham Urb. L.J. 1527 (October 2012), David B. Kopel, Adjunct Professor of Advanced Constitutional Law, Denver University, Sturm College of Law. Research Director, Independence Institute, Denver, Colorado. Associate Policy Analyst, Cato Institute, Washington, D.C. The law remained on the books, uninterrupted, for one hundred and ten years after enactment.
New York’s “proper cause” requirement became a “cause célèbre” of Anti-Second Amendment proponents who abhor the notion of civilian citizens carrying firearms in public, as the application of it has effectively precluded the vast majority of people who sought to carry a handgun for self-defense from doing so.
The inanity and insanity of New York’s “proper cause” requirement reverberated and rippled up to the present time, culminating in the Bruen case.
The New York Government’s arrogant insistence on it provoked the ire of Justice Thomas, et. al.
Yet, New Yorkers who cherish the unalienable, natural law right of the people to keep and bear arms, didn’t wait for a chance to defeat “proper cause” through the Bruen case. They saw an opening after the High Court came out with the McDonald decision in 2010—which followed its sister, the Heller case in 2008.
The insidiousness of the insertion of a “proper-cause” requirement in the Sullivan Act cannot be overstated.
For over one hundred and ten years—New York did not recognize a right of armed self-defense outside an interior dwelling—i.e., outside one’s home, or place of business.
To this day, the New York Government refuses to acknowledge or recognize a right of armed self-defense outside one’s home or place of business, notwithstanding that the Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, along with the Democrat Party-controlled Legislature in Albany, deleted the “proper cause” requirement in response to the Bruen case decision, effective, shortly, on September 2, 2022.
To understand what is transpiring here it is necessary to step back and take a close look at the New York case Kachalsky v. Cacace, 817 F. Supp. 2d 235, (S.D.N.Y. 2011), forKachalsky is critical to understanding the modus operandi of New York Gun Law both Pre-Bruen, since 1912, when “proper cause” was added to the Sullivan Act, and defended in the and Post-Bruen, when the Hochul Government developed a workaround to maintain the import of “proper cause” sans the verbiage. Kachalsky, citing for support the earlier 1980 Kenosky case, referred to supra, dealt directly with the “proper cause” requirement, shooting down any suggestion that the State’s “proper cause” requirement is somehow unconstitutional.
In Kachalsky v. Cacace, 817 F. Supp. 2d 235, (S.D.N.Y. 2011), Plaintiff Petitioner Kachalsky, a citizen who resides in Westchester County, and several other individuals similarly situated, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Defendant Respondent Cacace, the Police Licensing officer for denying Plaintiffs’ applications for an unrestricted concealed handgun carry license.
The Plaintiffs specifically challenged the constitutionality of “proper cause,” the vehicle through which the handgun licensing authority denied issuance of an unrestricted handgun carry license to the Plaintiffs.
The District Court explained the facts as follows:
“In May 2008, Plaintiff Kachalsky applied for a full-carry permit to be able to carry a concealed handgun while in public. In his application, Kachalsky asserted that he believed he satisfied Section 400.00(2)(f)’s ‘proper cause’ requirement because he was a U.S. citizen and therefore entitled to ‘the right to bear arms’ under the Second Amendment, [stating] ‘we live in a world where sporadic random violence might at any moment place one in a position where one needs to defend oneself or possibly others,’ and he was ‘a law-abiding citizen’ who had neither ‘been convicted of a crime’ nor ‘assaulted or threatened to assault another person.’ Upon reviewing Kachalsky’s application and completing a corresponding investigation, the Department of Public Safety recommended that the permit be denied. The application, investigation file, and recommendation were forwarded to Defendant Cacace, who, acting as licensing officer, reviewed those materials and issued a decision and order, dated October 8, 2008, denying Kachalsky’s application. Cacace observed that Kachalsky failed to state ‘any facts which would demonstrate a need for self protection distinguishable from that of the general public,’ and that ‘based upon all the facts and circumstances of this application, it is my opinion that proper cause does not exist for the issuance of an unrestricted ‘full carry’ pistol license.’” [references to pleadings redacted]
In finding for the Police Licensing Officer, against Plaintiffs, the Court said,
“To establish proper cause to obtain a license without any restrictions—the full-carry license that Plaintiffs seek in this case—an applicant must; demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession.’ There is a substantial body of law instructing licensing officials on the application of this standard. Unlike a license for target shooting or hunting, ‘[a] generalized desire to carry a concealed weapon to protect one’s person and property does not constitute ‘proper cause.’” Good moral character plus a simple desire to carry a weapon is not enough. Nor is living or being employed in a ‘high crime area.’” [citations omitted].
The reader should note the District Court in Kachalsky opined that a showing of “good moral character,” while necessary to obtain a carry license in New York, isn’t sufficient to warrant issuance of a carry license. This is a salient point. And AQ will come back to this when we discuss “good moral character” in depth.
Suffice it to say, at this time, having struck out “proper cause” from the Sullivan Act, NY CLS Penal § 400.00 et. seq. as amended (2021 Bill Text NY S.B. 1B), the Hochul Government has bolstered the “good moral character,” requirement, essentially refabricating and reframing it to do double-duty, operating like the old “proper cause” requirement to drastically cut the number of individuals who, although under no Federal law disability to own an possess firearms, would still be denied exercise of their fundamental right.
Governor Hochul and Albany have altered “good moral character” to make it a challenging obstacle to overcome.
The “good moral character” remains as vague as ever, but the Hochul Government has mandated that new applications for an unrestricted concealed handgun carry license, and renewals as well, must include information that casts a bright light on one’s personal political, social, and religious beliefs.
With this information, the licensing official can ostensibly deduce psychological aspects of one’s character as well as his ideological and socio-philosophical leanings. To ask for such information is unconscionable and unconstitutional. An applicant is thus faced with a dilemma, a veritable, proverbial Hobson choice.
Most everyone today has some sort of social media account and has commented on websites or has created a website of one’s own. The information conveyed on these sites can likely touch upon personal sensitive financial and medical information. On these websites, one’s hopes, wishes, prayers, fears, and reveries may be laid bare. Government and employers, gaining access to this rich body of data, have used it to deny employment, or to fire a person from employment. And the Federal Government is soaking up petabytes of information on individuals. One can only wonder at the amount of data that the NSA is compiling on everyone and everything and storing in its colossal information holding tanks in Bluffdale, Utah. See, e.g., Fox News article and article in The Guardian.
Most all records are electronically digitalized and available on the world wide web. If an applicant provides this information to a Government handgun licensing official, such information may become part of a Government public record. This information will certainly become the basis to deny a person a concealed handgun carry license if, for example, the licensing officer happens to disagree with one’s political, social, or religious viewpoints and leanings. And the information will likely be forwarded to police authorities throughout the State and to the Federal authorities as well, including, DOJ, DHS, and the FBI, organizations that have a very dim view of individuals who are deemed “social and political conservatives.” This is not a theoretical concern or “conspiratorial musing.” It is real, as recent events confirm.
Especially concerning and disconcerting is that such private information will make its way to the DOJ/FBI and CIA, where an individual can be scrutinized and marked for special treatment.
Our Federal Government’s Departments, Bureaus, and Agencies are slowly and inexorably taking on the characteristics of horrific secret police and intelligence gathering organizations reminiscent of the Third Reich’s Gestapo/Kripo police organizations and of the secretive Sicherheitsdienst-SD (Security Service of the SS); and of the secret police of the interior ministry of the Stalin Government, the NKVD. One is reminded of Senator Chuck Schumer’s remark, as reported in The Federalist,
“Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
It is an idiotic assertion to be sure, but more so because Schumer comes across as a fawning jackass for the intelligence community; boasting of its power; conveying to the public his admiration of it, rather than acknowledging that it has gotten out of hand and needs to be controlled. In that regard, isn’t Congress supposed to monitor and control the police and intelligence apparatuses of the Nation? After all, Congress created these things. It has ultimate oversight authority over them.
Yet, rather than keeping these things on a tight leash, Schumer would allow these creatures to run amok, or worse, admits that Congress can’t do a damn thing to control them. And, instead of attempting to do so, he would rather stand stupified, in utter awe of them.
And then there is the illustrious Attorney General.
The DOJ/FBI, through statements and actions of the Attorney General, Merrick Garland, has made plain that those Americans who happen to have a “conservative” political and social mindset are construed as exhibiting deviant thought and behavior. So the DOJ/FBI treats such American citizens as “Domestic Terrorists,” or certainly as potential “Domestic Terrorists”—and a “Domestic Terrorist” or one who is deemed by the “woke police” to have the wrong psychological attributes, i.e., one who doesn’t accept the new religious dogma of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” and who isn’t a proponent of the rules-based neoliberal international order isn’t the sort of person that a handgun licensing authority would deign to issue an unrestricted concealed handgun carry license too, anyway. In fact, why should any proper thinking civilized human being want a gun anyway? Aren’t those people who cherish their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and who desire to exercise that right a throwback to a time long since past and best laid to rest? Wouldn’t that be nice, or so the Neoliberal Globalists and Neo-Marxists would have Americans believe? And, if they can seduce enough Americans, perhaps then, they can dispense with the muddy problem, and one fraught with considerable peril, of attempting to remove hundreds of millions of firearms and millions of rounds of ammunition from over one hundred million Americans.
THE CATCH-22 OF HANDGUN LICENSING IN NEW YORK
The Anti-Second Amendment New York Government sees guns as troublesome and gun owners as inherently troubled individuals, and New York’s Gun Law, as conceived, and implemented conveys that idea. Succinctly stated it is this:
“You can have a concealed handgun carry license if you don’t want one because you are sane to not want one, and all you have to do to obtain one is to file an application to get one, and then you can carry a handgun. But, then, if you do file an application for a handgun carry license that must mean to us that you do want one, which is apparent through your filing an application to obtain one. But, then, you must be insane and must therefore be denied one because the State cannot abide a person carrying a handgun who is insane.”
“There Was Only One Catch And That Was Catch-22, Which Specified That A Concern For One’s Safety In The Face Of Dangers That Were Real And Immediate Was The Process Of A Rational Mind. Orr Was Crazy And Could Be Grounded. All He Had To Do Was Ask; And As Soon As He Did, He Would No Longer Be Crazy And Would Have To Fly More Missions. Orr Would Be Crazy To Fly More Missions And Sane If He Didn’t, But If He Was Sane He Had To Fly Them.
If He Flew Them He Was Crazy And Didn’t Have To; But If He Didn’t Want To He Was Sane And Had To. Yossarian Was Moved Very Deeply By The Absolute Simplicity Of This Clause Of Catch-22 And Let Out A Respectful Whistle.
‘That’s Some Catch, That Catch-22,’ He Observed.
‘It’s The Best There Is,’ Doc Daneeka Agreed.” ~From the novel, “Catch 22,” by Joseph Heller, first published in 1961
Of course, a person ostensibly willingly divulging a wealth of personal information to a police licensing officer, which, under the Governor’s newly reconfigured, convoluted, consecrated “good moral character” requirement, one must do, makes the work of police investigation of compiling dossiers on everyone in New York, substantially less time-consuming and expensive.
The applicant does the “dirty work” for the police. He or she is forced to waive his or her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination with little chance at best, anyway, of receiving the coveted prize: an unrestricted concealed handgun carry license by which one might be able to adequately defend life and limb in the concrete jungle that New York has degenerated to.
There is no upside to any of this for the average citizen, and there is certainly no upside in the release of vast stores of personal data, highlighting one’s personal thoughts, beliefs, and idiosyncrasies to the State Government.
In the end, the applicant is left in a worse situation than before the filing. He or she is denied a concealed handgun carry license, and the State Government has a veritable cornucopia of personal data on a person as there is nothing in the amendments to the Sullivan Act that require a licensing officer to destroy the information obtained after the officer denies the application. The Government holds onto that information, and can, thereafter, use it to keep tabs on the individual and for extrajudicial, nefarious purposes that a person can only guess at.
And, if the applicant refuses to divulge such information, what then? The handgun licensing authority will immediately refuse issuance of a concealed handgun carry license on the ground of failure of the applicant to comply with Sullivan Act requirements that the applicant divulge personal social media information and any other data the officer, in his discretion, demands so that the officer can properly assess one’s personal, psychological makeup.
Hence, the applicant is placed in an impossible situation—the proverbial Hobson Choice—i.e. no tenable choice at all.
After September 2, 2022, when the amendments to the Sullivan Act take effect, the Hochul Government will start to use “good moral character” like the “proper cause” requirement before it, a veritable brick wall. The new requirement will operate much like and as well as the old requirement: to deny to the vast majority of individuals seeking a valid unrestricted New York State concealed handgun carry license the ability to lawfully carry a handgun in the State.
This is in keeping with New York Government tradition that does not recognize armed self-defense outside the home or place of business, as a fundamental natural law right. Nothing changes. And it is consistent with New York Governor Hochul’s Press Release, released on the day the U.S. Supreme Court officially released the Bruen decision. New York would go through the pretense of complying with the High Court’s rulings, but, in practice, the amendments to the Sullivan Act are designed to make it difficult to obtain a concealed handgun carry license, and, in fact, the amendments make it more difficult, not less so, for the average citizen to obtain one. And, for those individuals who presently have a valid New York City or State concealed handgun carry license, the amendments place renewals of existing licenses on an equal footing with first-time applicants. A pro forma exercise for renewal applicants is a thing of the past. The application process for a concealed handgun carry license begins anew for everyone. And that raises another issue: the operational rules, implementing the amendments to the Gun Law have yet to be finalized. In fact, one might ask if the Government bureaucrats have even drafted them yet. That is a big if! So, where does that leave current handgun licensees in the interim, whose licenses for renewal are imminent?
The simple fact is this: The New York Government will defeat any attempt by those who desire to exercise their Second Amendment right of armed self-defense outside the home. At the very least, the changes to New York’s Sullivan Act will create as many obstacles as it can get away with to frustrate those applicants who seek to carry a handgun outside the home or place of business. Thus, in New York, the Bruen decision will do little to assuage difficulty in obtaining a concealed handgun carry license.
THE U.S. SUPREME COURT SHOULD HAVE STRUCK DOWN NEW YORK’S HANDGUN LICENSING REGIME
How do Governor Hochul and the Legislature in Albany get away with this? They are able to do so because the main mechanism of defeating the Second Amendment remains unscathed. New York, like several other jurisdictions around the Country is a handgun licensing jurisdiction. The average civilian citizen cannot lawfully possess a handgun anywhere in New York unless one secures a valid license from the appropriate licensing authority in New York. That is the source of the present problem in New York.
The High Court did not go far enough. The Court did not strike down, as unconstitutional, the licensing of handguns. Handgun licensing regimes are inherently incompatible with the Second Amendment guarantee. No other fundamental right requires the acquisition of a license before an American may lawfully exercise a natural law right. One doesn’t need a license to exercise his right of free speech or to practice religion or to associate with those people or groups one wishes to associate with. It would be bizarre to require a Government issued license before one might lawfully do so.
Similarly, to acknowledge a right of the people to keep and bear arms and at one and the same time to recognize the licensing of handguns as a privilege and a condition precedent to the exercise of the basic, unalienable right is inconsistent with the very nature of natural law, God-given rights. These rights exist intrinsically in the person. They are not priviliges bestowed on one by the grace of the State. They are fundamental, unalienable, immutable, and eternal. That the U.S. Supreme Court did not rule that licensing of handguns or any firearm a condition precedent to exercise of a fundamental natural law right is a major flaw of the Bruen case, as it was a major flaw of Heller and McDonald before it. None of these seminal Second Amendment cases dealt head-on with this. And jurisdictions like New York will continue to use licensing of handguns and other firearms as a difficult obstacle to overcome or, for most people, an impenetrable barrier, preventing one from exercising the basic, natural law right of armed self-defense.
Licensing of handguns, operating as a condition precedent to the exercise of a fundamental, unalienable, natural law right, is legally indefensible. And the practice is irreconcilable with basic principles of elementary logic. Associate Justices Thomas and Alito must have been aware of this fatal flaw in the Bruen decision.
One must wonder: Did Justices Thomas and Alito concede the constitutionality of handgun licensing to obtain Roberts’ vote and that of Kavanaugh? Was that the price Justices Thomas and Alito had to pay to obtain the acquiescence of Roberts and Kavanaugh? If so, that brings disturbingly to mind the price the three Associate Justices—Scalia, Thomas, and Alito—had to pay to get Roberts and Kennedy on board, in the Heller case.
Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito had to openly acknowledge the right of State Governments to continue to impinge upon the core of the Second Amendment.
But doing so guaranteed continued Court action as Governments would always find ways to frustrate the citizen’s exercise of armed self-defense, and citizens, for their part, would find it necessary to continue to file lawsuits against unconscionable, unconstitutional Government action—an expensive, time-consuming, frustrating, and physically and psychologically tiring, exhausting ordeal. And a favorable outcome for the would-be gun owners can never be assured.
Of course, State Governments know all this, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York Legislature in Albany certainly know this.
Letters have already been sent to Government officials around the Country, contesting the “good moral character” requirement. For, these jurisdictions are using “good moral character” as they had heretofore utilized “proper cause,” as an effective means to deny a person a coveted handgun carry license. And lawsuits are being prepared. And, once again, ever again, Americans face the same frustrations, when it comes to the exercise of the natural law right of armed self-defense.
Litigation is to be avoided if possible. There is a better way; more effective; substantially less time-consuming; and certainly more cost-effective.
In New York, voters have a chance this November to overturn the present oppressive and repressive handgun licensing regime and their oppressive, unresponsive Government. They can accomplish this by electing, as the new Governor of New York, Lee Zeldin.
Unlike the present Governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, Lee Zeldin is a true and fervent advocate of one’s right of armed self-defense. And he is also something that Kathy Hochul is not. He is a law and order Candidate for New York Governor.
Lee Zeldin would also take definite steps—rather than rely on the same tiresome words and the same lame excuses to rationalize an inability or, worse, a clear lack of will—to come to grips with the intractable, horrific crime problem plaguing and engulfing New York, especially the City of New York.
Many New Yorkers understand this. Will political independents and a sufficient number of Democrats take a leap of faith and vote for people who have their best interests at heart this November? Will they forbear from voting for people who say they care about the well-being of New York and of the residents in it, but, through their actions, make clear they do not?
Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and Democrat Party Legislators in Albany do not represent the interests of New Yorkers. They represent the interests of a small group of billionaire Neoliberal Globalist “elites” and Neo-Marxist cultists. And the aims of these people are not the preservation of a free Constitutional Republic, but, rather, as becomes more evident with each passing day, its destruction.
Copyright © 2022 Roger J. Katz (Towne Criour), Stephen L. D’Andrilli (Publius) All Rights Reserved.