Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich are co-leading a coalition of 26 states to protect Americans’ right to self-defense at the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
The states filed an amicus brief in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, urging the justices to declare New York’s subjective-issue, or “may issue,” firearm license regime unconstitutional and reverse the Second Circuit’s decision.
“The Second Amendment enshrines the right to bear arms and the right to self-defense in our Constitution and affords every citizen the ability to protect their property, family, and livelihoods. As I always have, I will fight to protect the Second Amendment and those rights at every turn, which is exactly why today I led the briefing in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “In our brief, we urge the Supreme Court to uphold the original intent of the Second Amendment and reverse the Second Circuit’s decision.”
The amicus brief, which was filed earlier today, begins with, “New York’s handgun permit regime, with its ‘proper cause’ requirement, unconstitutionally prevents the vast majority of law-abiding citizens from exercising their fundamental, enumerated right to defend themselves when it is most necessary—before they become a victim.”
The brief makes two major arguments – that subjective issue regimes harm and undermine the very public safety purposes they purport to advance, and that New York’s subjective issue regime is incompatible with the original intent of the Second Amendment.
Forty-two states have objective-issue permitting regimes, or “Shall Issue” permitting, meaning that an objective set of criteria is reviewed when considering issuing concealed carry or firearm permits. This criteria can be a background check, mental health records check, fingerprinting, knowledge of applicable laws, firearms training, or other requirements. Comparatively, according to the brief, “In addition to requiring the above-mentioned objective criteria (e.g. background check, mental health records check, etc.), New York requires that an applicant “‘demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession.’” The Second Amendment provides all the “special need” that law-abiding Americans need to justify carrying a firearm to defend themselves.
According to New York City Police Department regulations, an applicant can show proper cause through “extraordinary personal danger, documented by proof of recurrent threats to life or safety,” meaning that applicants can only apply after they’ve already potentially faced threats on their life or worse.
To illustrate the sheer improbability of passing New York’s high bar to obtain a license, the brief provides examples of citizens who have been denied licenses, including a WWII veteran who was honorably discharged, a criminal defense attorney who faced threats from dissatisfied clients, and merchants, doctors, and elevator repairmen traveling or working in high-crime areas.
Moreover, the brief provides empirical evidence that those who obtain concealed carry or firearm permits are arguably more law-abiding than the general population. Citing the Violence Policy Center, the brief notes, “nationwide, VPC data shows that “America’s 18 million concealed-carry permit holders accounted for 801 firearm-related homicides over a 15-year span … roughly 0.7% of all firearm-related homicides during that time.”
The brief also states that the original public meaning of the Second Amendment allows citizens to bear arms for self-defense outside their homes. Citing the Heller v. D.C. decision, the brief states, “In Heller, following the text and history of the Second Amendment, this Court held that the federal constitution ‘guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.’” Further, the Heller decision made it clear that any prohibition that “makes it impossible for citizens” to engage in self-defense violates the Second Amendment.
Joining Arizona and Missouri are the state attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.