By Terri Jo Neff
For the second time this year, Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt have authored a “friend-of-the-court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a challenge to the constitutionally of a New York state law which severely restricts who can obtain a concealed carry permit.
On Tuesday, Brnovich, Schmitt, and the attorneys general of 24 other states joined in urging the justices to declare New York’s subjective-issue firearm license process as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The case is New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett.
Forty-two states, including Arizona, have objective-issue systems where a concealed carry permit is issued to an individual who meets a certain set of objective criteria such as a background check, a mental health records review, fingerprinting, knowledge of applicable laws, and firearms training.
However, New Yorkers who want a concealed carry permit must demonstrate to a state worker some type of “special need” for self-protection outside their home that is greater than the average citizen. In effect, the law serves as a de facto ban on most New Yorkers who want to exercise their right to protect themselves when away from home.
The 26 signors of the brief believe they have “a unique perspective that should aid the Court in weighing the value and importance of the rights implicated by the questions presented.” In particular, they cite empirical evidence that legal concealed carry holders are significantly less likely than the general public to commit a crime.
In addition, a 2013 National Research Council study is cited, showing that crime victims who resist with a gun are less likely to suffer serious injury than victims who resist in other ways or who offer no resistance at all.
“Those who obtain firearms-carry permits are, and remain, overwhelmingly more law-abiding than the general population. That conclusion makes perfect sense, as permit holders must typically pass background and other checks prior to being issued a license under state regimes,” the brief argues.
Brnovich issued a statement after the brief was filed Tuesday.
“Law-abiding citizens should not require the consent of faceless bureaucrats to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. New York cannot override the Second Amendment or the natural right of self-preservation,” Brnovich said, adding he will continue to vigorously protect the constitutional rights of all Americans.
According to the attorney general’s office, Arizona implemented a licensed concealed carry regime in 1994. That year, the state experienced 10.5 murders per 100,000 people compared to the nationwide rate of 9 murders per 100,000.
Then in 2010, Arizona implemented a right-to-carry for all law-abiding citizens, even without a license. By 2016, Arizona’s murder rate was 5.5 per 100,000, even though more guns were being lawfully carried in the state.
Joining Arizona and Missouri are the state attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The July 20 brief follows one filed in February in which the 26 attorneys general argued why the U.S. Supreme Court should take up the case. The Justices announced in April that they will take up the case in its next term which starts Oct. 4, 2021.
The New York case, however, is not the only Second Amendment challenge Brnovich’s office has been involved with this year.
In April, he co-authored an amicus brief signed by nearly the attorneys general from nearly two dozen states urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the Second Amendment by declaring California’s law limiting magazine capacities as unconstitutional.
Then in May, Brnovich led another multi-state coalition in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a New Jersey law which limits magazine capacities and requires gun owners to surrender to law enforcement certain magazines which are legal in 43 other states.
And last month, Brnovich led a coalition of 22 states in writing a brief to the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in an effort to strike down a three-decade-old California law that bans popular rifles, even when kept in the home for self-defense.