Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Concealed carry in Times Square?

That's one of the angles gunnies are taking when discussing the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, and it's certainly a sound bite being pushed by people desperate to stir up some liberal opposition to it. And it's most definitely in the spirit of the bill, which aims to eliminate the needlessly complex tangle of reciprocities while--let's be honest--taking a shot at abusive, discriminatory carry policies like NYC's.

But does it actually work that way?

...[A] person who is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing...a firearm, and who is carrying a valid license or permit which is issued pursuant to the law of a State and which permits the person to carry a concealed firearm, may carry a concealed any State, other than the State of residence of the person, that...has a statute that allows residents of the State to obtain licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms...
A person carrying a concealed handgun under this section shall be permitted to carry a handgun subject to the same conditions or limitations that apply to residents of the State who have permits issued by the State or are otherwise lawfully allowed to do so by the State.
[...]In a State that allows the issuing authority for licenses or permits to carry concealed firearms to impose restrictions on the carrying of firearms by individual holders of such licenses or permits, a firearm shall be carried according to the same terms authorized by an unrestricted license or permit issued to a resident of the State.

[Pardon the judicious editing; I cut legalese not relevant to this point.]

So a New Jerseyan with a shall-issue Florida permit can carry in New York as though he had an unrestricted New York State carry permit.* But here's the rub: an unrestricted New York State permit does not allow a New Yorker to carry in NYC.

Handgun licenses issued elsewhere in New York State are not valid in New York City. New York City licenses are valid throughout New York State. However, a New York State license to carry or possess will be valid in New York City in the absence of a New York City license provided that the handguns are transported by the licensee in a locked container and the trip through New York City is continuous and uninterrupted.

The NRTCRA only addresses state permits, not city permits which, as far as I know, don't exist outside NYC. If the act requires the state of New York to recognize a Florida permit as it recognizes its own, then a Florida permit will not be authorization to carry within New York City.

So is the right to carry in Times Square implied in the "unrestricted" language? Or could the city successfully argue that NY State has declared all of NYC a "sensitive place"--similar to schools and courthouses in other states--whose special rules the NRTCRA doesn't overturn?

If this act is signed into law (and it's looking increasingly possible it will be), I'm really going to enjoy carrying in Maryland and the draconian parts of New England. But I'll wait for the inevitable test case before venturing into Bloombergia.

[* - In this context, a "restricted" permit means that the issuing authority has placed specific restrictions on that specific permit. NY State judges do this routinely, issuing permits "for target shooting" or "for hunting". NJ permits issued to armored car drivers will be restricted to carry on the job.]


  1. NYC'S permit is issued pursuant to the laws of the state, isn't it?

  2. I've been holding off comment hoping to get a chance to wade through the relevant NY laws, but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen soon.

    The issue may turn on exactly your question. If the state law says "unrestricted permit holders can carry anywhere except NYC", and the details of NYC permit issuance are a matter of city law, then arguably a FL permit plus the NRTCRA does not equal Times Square carry.

    If the state itself issues NYC permits, then such a permit would be "an unrestricted license or permit issued to a resident of the State", and presumably we could have a big CCW party in Central Park.

  3. I think such special pleading will lead to a smack-down from the federal courts up to SCOTUS, or from Congress if SCOTUS fails...

    The grounds upon which Congress is passing this thing don't distinguish between lesser levels of government

  4. I'm inclined to agree. Like I said, it'll probably take a test case to get it all sorted out.