Black NYC Public Defenders Throw Support Behind 2A

A group of Black public defenders argued NY’s gun laws are unconstitutional. (Photo: Public Domain)

The Supreme Court fight for Second Amendment rights in New York welcomed an unexpected ally this week: three groups of Black public defenders working in New York City, the heart of the Empire State’s draconian gun-control regime.

The Bronx Defenders, the Brooklyn Defender Services, and the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in which they argued that New York’s “may issue” carry permit requirement is both unconstitutional and racist.

“Each year, we represent hundreds of indigent people whom New York criminally charges for exercising their right to keep and bear arms,” they write. “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 group of public defenders draw on their experience representing New York’s most marginalized communities to point out that police and prosecutors use the state’s gun laws to persecute law-abiding racial minorities and trap them in a never-ending cycle of legal trouble. And they have the stats to back it up.

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“In 2020, while Black people made up 18 percent of New York’s population, they accounted for 78 percent of the state’s felony gun possession cases. Non-Latino white people, who made up 70 percent of New York’s population, accounted for only 7 percent of such prosecutions,” they write.

New York’s draconian gun laws require anyone seeking a concealed carry license to pay at least $400 in permit fees, take time-consuming gun safety courses, and receive permission from local law enforcement. For most of New York City’s poorest residents, the first two requirements are almost impossible to meet. For anyone except former law enforcement and the richest residents, the last requirement is a pipe dream.

This, combined with the NYPD’s history of “stop and frisk” and the ability of prosecutors to charge any illegal gun possession as a violent felony, effectively destroys the constitutional right to keep and bear arms in the Big Apple.

Anti-gun activists are predictably incensed that a group of progressive lawyers would cast their lot with the pro-gun community.

“The fact that these two interest groups have found common cause in obliterating state gun regulations is just a depressing example of why we can’t have nice things,” writes lawyer Elie Mystal in The Nation.  

SEE ALSO: New York Mayors Answer to Criminal Violence: Allow Lawsuits Against Gun Makers

Mystal fails to address the fact that New York’s overbearing gun laws come with their own set of violent outcomes.

“These stories and our experience illustrate is that New York’s licensing requirements— which cause criminal penalties for unlicensed possession—themselves have controversial public safety implications,” the lawyers conclude in their brief. “It is not safe to be approached by police on suspicion that you possess a gun without a license. It is not safe to have a search warrant executed on your home. It is not safe to be caged pretrial at Rikers Island. It is not safe to lose your job. It is not safe to lose your children. It is not safe to be sentenced to prison. And it is not safe to forever be branded as a ‘criminal,’ or worse, as a ‘violent felon.’ In sum, New York’s licensing requirements are not safe.”

This year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a gun case for the first time in over a decade. At issue is New York’s “may issue” concealed carry requirement, which, as the lawyers argue, effectively eliminates the right to bear arms in many jurisdictions throughout the state. A positive outcome for gun rights could be the first step in eliminating similar regimes in anti-gun states like California.

Read the full brief below.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • sfv August 3, 2021, 11:36 am

    You people are too much. Gun control is racist and racism is bad so we need to get rid of gun control.

    But you oppose getting rid of statues of racists, you’re okay with voter suppression, and everything you dislike you label as socialism.

  • Big Al 45 August 2, 2021, 12:03 pm

    Good on them, gun CONTROL is racist, and discriminatory toward the poor.

  • survivor50 August 2, 2021, 10:10 am

    UH OH !!! ” Black Public Defenders ” in NYC agree with my position on 2A !!!

    I may need to recheck my position …

  • Raymond Paquette August 1, 2021, 9:53 pm

    Had there been such enlightenment when I was still a resident and homeowner in Queens I would still be there. However after an incident on the E train one morning on our way to work, I made up my mind to remove my family from to a jurisdiction where one is still able to properly equip ones self to protect them.

    Had this group been around then I might still be domiciled in NYC. It is also regrettable that the ACLU, once a bastion for the defense of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is now just one more left wing group of liberal wokesters bent on undermining the US in the name of CRT!

  • reiver August 1, 2021, 5:45 pm

    ABSOLUTELY A-MAZING & waaay OVERDUE!!!!

  • medlorida August 1, 2021, 2:39 pm

    Glorious excellent and halarious at the same time

  • AK July 30, 2021, 1:25 pm

    “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. ”

    Hallelujah. Welcome to the light side. And oh… go a step further, make the association that from the Slave Codes to Tammany Hall to Three Strikes, it’s all Democrats.

    All….Democrats…..

  • Tyrone Greene July 30, 2021, 7:32 am

    Yes Sarah, miracles still do happen….

  • kc (sire/your majesty) July 27, 2021, 3:59 pm

    Never thought I’d see the day, but better late than never. Welcome aboard!

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