Tackling the race and class discrimination of New York’s gun control laws
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal of a gun control case out of New York in the fall, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett. At issue is whether New York’s stringent rules governing concealed-carry permits violate the Second Amendment.
Unlike other case challenging gun control laws, however, this one has drawn some attention for one of the briefs filed asking the court to overturn New York’s regulations. It’s from a group of New York public defenders and legal aid societies. They write:
…we represent hundreds of indigent people whom New York criminally charges for exercising their right to keep and bear arms. For our clients, New York’s licensing regime renders the Second Amendment a legal fiction. Worse, virtually all our clients whom New York prosecutes for exercising their Second Amendment right are Black or Hispanic. And that is no accident. New York enacted its firearm licensing requirements to criminalize gun ownership by racial and ethnic minorities. That remains the effect of its enforcement by police and prosecutors today.
The consequences for our clients are brutal. New York police have stopped, questioned, and frisked our clients on the streets. They have invaded our clients’ homes with guns drawn, terrifying them, their families, and their children. They have forcibly removed our clients from their homes and communities and abandoned them in dirty and violent jails and prisons for days, weeks, months, and years. They have deprived our clients of their jobs, children, livelihoods, and ability to live in this country. And they have branded our clients as “criminals” and “violent felons” for life. They have done all of this only because our clients exercised a constitutional right.
It sounds a lot like New York’s permitting laws are intended to permanently disarm some residents for no other reason than their race, class, or ethnicity. There’s no place in law for such blatant discrimination.