US Appeals Court rules against social media disclosure in NYC’s hun law

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The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has invalidated certain sections of New York’s 2022 gun law, specifically those requiring applicants for concealed carry permits to provide a list of their social media accounts.

FILE - New York can continue to enforce laws banning firearms in sensitive locations, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, Dec. 8, 2023 in its first broad review of a host of new gun rules passed in the state after a landmark Supreme Court ruling last year.(AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)(AP)
FILE – New York can continue to enforce laws banning firearms in sensitive locations, a federal appeals court ruled Friday, Dec. 8, 2023 in its first broad review of a host of new gun rules passed in the state after a landmark Supreme Court ruling last year.(AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File)(AP)

The 261-page decision, delivered by a three-judge panel, also prohibits the enforcement of restrictions on carrying concealed firearms on publicly accessible private property and in houses of worship.

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The court’s decision is grounded in the precedent set by the Supreme Court in last year’s New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen case, which invalidated the state’s century-old law restricting the carrying of concealed firearms.

The judges stated, “Disclosing one’s social media accounts — including ones that are maintained pseudonymously — forfeits anonymity in that realm. Conditioning a concealed carry license on such a disclosure imposes a burden on the right to bear arms that is without sufficient analogue in our nation’s history or tradition of firearms regulation”.

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What is Concealed Carry Improvement Act?

New York’s “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” had mandated that gun license applicants submit a list of their social media accounts from the past three years for state officials to review.

The "Concealed Carry Improvement Act" in New York mandated that individuals applying for gun licenses provide a comprehensive list of their active and past social media accounts spanning the last three years for evaluation by state authorities.(designer491)
The “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” in New York mandated that individuals applying for gun licenses provide a comprehensive list of their active and past social media accounts spanning the last three years for evaluation by state authorities.(designer491)

However, the court has allowed other aspects of the law to remain, such as the requirement for applicants to demonstrate “good moral character” and to list household and family members on their license application.

Erich Pratt, the senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, a leading gun rights organization, expressed satisfaction with the court’s decision saying, “Governor Hochul and her cabal in Albany never seem to get the message, and in turn, [Gun Owners of America] is proud to have played a major role in rebuking her unconstitutional law. Nevertheless, this was not a total victory, and we will continue the fight until this entire law is sent to the bowels of history where it belongs.”

‘Court’s opinion reads like an insubordinate rebuke’

Sam Paredes, a board member of the Gun Owners Foundation, voiced disappointment that the “good moral character” provision was upheld.

“It’s encouraging that the Court blocked the intrusive social media provisions, but just as intrusive are the processes needed to confirm someone is ‘of good moral character,’ which the Court has inexplicably chosen to uphold,” Paredes said.

“Frustratingly, much of this Court’s opinion reads like an insubordinate rebuke of the Supreme Court, which is a disgrace and cannot be allowed to stand. We are weighing action at the nation’s High Court.”

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The panel judges defended their decision to uphold the “good moral character” clause, arguing that it aligns with the nation’s historical traditions of gun regulation. They clarified that the definition of “character” in the “Concealed Carry Improvement Act” serves as an indicator of potential danger, assessing whether an applicant is likely to pose a threat to themselves, others, or public safety.

The ruling acknowledges the broad consensus that preventing dangerous individuals from possessing lethal weapons is a fundamental part of the nation’s tradition of firearm regulation.

New York Attorney General Letitia James welcomed the court’s decision to leave intact the provisions of the gun law deemed “critical” for ensuring the safety of New Yorkers.

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