New York’s licensing requirements criminalize the exercise of the fundamental Second Amendment right, with rare exception. As a result, each year, 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.
It is somewhat disturbing that pointing out that the demographics of the illegal prosecutions are believed to make a difference in whether the law is declared unconstitutional or not. It would seem to me the constitutionality of a law should not be decided on skin color or ethnicity.
That said, if it gets another SCOTUS justice vote (Root opines, “It’s possible that such arguments will resonate with Justice Sonia Sotomayor”) I give my thanks to the public defenders for their contribution.—Joe]