Bloomberg Law
Jan. 11, 2023, 2:57 PM

Supreme Court Leaves New York Handgun Restrictions in Force (1)

Greg Stohr
Greg Stohr
Bloomberg News

The US Supreme Court refused to block New York’s new handgun restrictions, leaving in force a ban on firearms in designated “sensitive locations” including buses, parks and stores where the owner doesn’t want weapons.

The justices turned away an emergency request from six Gun Owners of America members who sought to block much of the law while their legal challenge goes forward.

The order came without noted dissent, although Justice Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas issued a statement characterizing the order as a procedural step rather than an assessment of the law’s constitutionality.

The state enacted the measure last year after the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that required people to show a special need to carry a concealed handgun in public. In addition to creating a panoply of gun-free zones, the new law requires license applicants to disclose their social media accounts and provide contact information for their family members and housemates.

The dispute marks an early test of the high court’s concealed-carry ruling and the extent to which states and cities retain power to restrict firearms in the name of public safety. The 2022 ruling was the biggest gun-rights decision in more than a decade, underscoring the clout of the court’s 6-3 conservative majority.

US District Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled that much of the law is probably unconstitutional, but a three-judge panel on the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals put his ruling on hold while the case is on appeal.

Alito, writing for himself and Thomas, described Suddaby’s opinion as “thorough” and said the case presented “novel and serious questions” under the Constitution’s First and Second Amendments.

“I understand the court’s denial today to reflect respect for the 2nd Circuit’s procedures in managing its own docket, rather than expressing any view on the merits of the case,” Alito said. “Applicants should not be deterred by today’s order from again seeking relief if the 2nd Circuit does not, within a reasonable time, provide an explanation for its stay order or expedite consideration of the appeal.”

In asking the Supreme Court to intervene, the gun-rights advocates said the law was “enacted as retaliation against New York gun owners for having prevailed” in the earlier case.

The law “declares virtually the entire landmass of New York to be off limits to the possession of firearms,” the group, led by Schenectady County resident Ivan Antonyuk, argued in court papers.

New York officials urged the Supreme Court to let the law remain in effect while the 2nd Circuit hears the state’s appeal on an expedited basis. The 2nd Circuit has also ordered expedited briefings in two other appeals involving the law.

“Where, as here, the court of appeals stands ready to adjudicate these important challenges in a timely fashion, this court’s premature intervention is neither appropriate nor necessary,” New York Attorney General Letitia James argued.

The case could have implications for New Jersey, where a federal judge has temporarily blocked that state’s new law barring handguns in sensitive locations.

The case is Antonyuk v. Nigrelli, 22A557.

(Updates to describe Alito statement in third, seventh and eighth paragraphs.)

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Greg Stohr in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wasserman at

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