WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt are co-leading a coalition of 26 states to protect Americans’ right to self-defense at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The states filed an amicus brief in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett, urging the justices to declare New York’s subjective-issue firearm license regime unconstitutional.
“Law-abiding citizens should not require the consent of faceless bureaucrats to exercise their right to keep and bear arms,” said Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “New York cannot override the Second Amendment or the natural right of self-preservation. I will continue to vigorously protect Americans’ constitutional rights."
Attorney General Brnovich and the coalition argue New York’s subjective–issue concealed carry permit laws harm public safety and are contrary to the original public meaning of the Second Amendment. The State of New York requires citizens to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession” to obtain a concealed permit to carry a firearm outside the home. Practically speaking, it requires New Yorkers to prove that they have already been a victim of violent crimes before they may protect themselves from potentially becoming victims of violent crimes.
The coalition's brief is filled with examples of citizens in good legal standing who were denied permits after demonstrating a need, proving New York’s “proper cause” requirement instead serves as a de facto ban for virtually all ordinary citizens. The attorneys general argue that if the Second Circuit Court of Appeals' misinterpretation of the Second Amendment is upheld, the decision threatens the liberty of citizens in every state, not just New York.
The Attorneys General state that the original meaning of the Second Amendment allows citizens to bear arms for self-defense outside their homes. Citing the Heller v. D.C. SCOTUS decision, the coalition argues, “In Heller, following the text and history of the Second Amendment, this Court held that the federal constitution ‘guarantee[s] the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.’” Further, the Heller decision made it clear that any prohibition that “makes it impossible for citizens” to engage in self-defense violates the Second Amendment.
Forty-two states, including Arizona, have objective-issue systems where a permit is issued to an individual who meets a certain set of objective criteria (background check, mental health records check, fingerprinting, knowledge of applicable laws, firearms training, or other requirements).
The coalition demonstrates with empirical evidence that citizens who are concealed carry holders are significantly less likely than the general public to commit a crime. The states also argue that objective-issue permitting and concealed carry permits decrease crime in general and allow citizens to defend themselves outside their homes. A 2013 review by the National Research Council reveals that victims of crime who resist with a gun are less likely to suffer serious injury than victims who either resist in other ways or offer no resistance at all.
Arizona’s experience with an objective-issue regime is telling. Arizona implemented a licensed concealed carry regime in 1994 and then a right-to-carry for all law-abiding citizens, even without a license, in 2010. In 1994, Arizona experienced 10.5 murders per 100,000 people, while the nationwide rate was 9 murders per 100,000. By 2016, Arizona’s murder rate was 5.5 per 100,000, nearly matching the national rate of 5.3.
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.
Copy of brief here.