New York State Responds to Supreme Court's Gun Rights Decision by Requiring Personal Interviews and Social Media Account Info

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

In response to the US Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen (see Supreme Court Rules You Can’t ‘Bear’ Arms Unless You Can Carry Them for Self-Defense), New York Governor Kathy Hochul called a special legislative session. Bruen totally demolished the unconstitutional licensing schemes some states had dreamed up to prevent law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to self-defense. The purpose of the special session was to throw up more roadblocks that would delay the ability of New Yorkers to carry firearms. The New York Times sums up the law in this way:


The state’s new gun law bars the carrying of handguns in many public settings such as subways and buses, parks, hospitals, stadiums and day cares. Guns will be off-limits on private property unless the property owner indicates that he or she expressly allows them. At the last minute, lawmakers added Times Square to the list of restricted sites.

The law also requires permit applicants to undergo 16 hours of training on the handling of guns and two hours of firing range training, as well as an in-person interview and a written exam. Applicants will also be subject to the scrutiny of local officials, who will retain some discretion in the permitting process.

To say the least, this description sugarcoats what the new law does.

What New York is trying to do is allow you to carry a weapon, but you just can’t carry it if you have a destination. The Supreme Court allowed states to restrict the carrying of firearms in “sensitive locations,” New York has responded by declaring the world outside your door is such a place. I am not a lawyer, but this strikes me as too cute by half, and I doubt that most of this bullsh** will survive court challenges.


New York has also added some blatantly discriminatory features. The “15 hours of in-person training at a firing range” is not only stupid…no one needs to spend 15 hours on a range or attend a classroom at a range to qualify for a concealed carry permit…but a way of ensuring only the wealthy will have the means to obtain the required training. The “in-person” interview is ridiculous and only has one purpose, to discriminate against applicants based on race, age, sex, social class, and political beliefs. It is the equivalent of the “literacy test” so beloved by the party of Jim Crow. Undoubtedly, the most egregious overreach is a required review of an applicant’s social media accounts.

The new law will require people trying to purchase a handgun license to hand over a list of social media accounts they have maintained over the last three years, so officials can verify their “character and conduct.”

According to the measure, applicants must prove they have “the essential character, temperament and judgment necessary to be entrusted with a weapon and to use it only in a manner that does not endanger oneself and others.”

“Sometimes, they’re telegraphing their intent to cause harm to others,” Hochul said at a news conference.

This is just nonsense and is a direct challenge to Bruen’s prohibition on “may issue” permit processes. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone to carry a weapon. Unless you are prohibited by federal law from owning a weapon, you can carry it. The demand for social media account information and evaluation of posts on those accounts is plainly illegal.


The new law requires that ammunition sales only be made to permit holders, and their ammo purchases will be recorded in a state database. I have no idea how they plan to enforce something this stupid.

Equally illegal is prohibiting the purchase of some types of body armor.

New York’s strategy is to create court challenges that will take years to play out. Then, when these restrictions are batted down, New York will come back with still more. Historically, the Second Circuit has been anti-gun and pro-totalitarian regulation, so the challenges will have to make their way to the Supreme Court.




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