A requirement by the Westchester County, New York, government that residents have a “good cause” to ask for a handgun permit is being challenged in court by the Second Amendment Foundation.
The federal lawsuit comes only two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment to provide to every individual in the U.S. the right to “keep and bear arms.”
It’s already the second lawsuit filed by the foundation since the Supreme Court precedent: An earlier case challenged a practice in North Carolina of banning guns during “emergencies.”
The New York case, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, White Plains Division, seeks a permanent injunction against enforcement of a state law that allows carry licenses to be denied applicants based on whether they can show “good cause.”
The foundation said it was joined in the lawsuit by Alan Kachalsky and Christina Nikolov, both Westchester County residents whose permit applications were denied.
Kachalsky was denied because he could not “demonstrate a need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general public.” Nikolov’s was denied because she could not demonstrate there was “any type of threat to her own safety anywhere.”
In addition to Westchester County, Susan Cacace and Jeffrey Cohen, both serving at times as handgun permit licensing officers, are named as defendants.
Attorney Alan Gura, who recently represented the foundation in its landmark Second Amendment case before the U.S. Supreme Court, is working on the case.
The complaint explains that, under New York law, handgun carry-permit applicants must “demonstrate good cause for the issuance of a permit.”
But the law violates the Second Amendment, the case states.
“American citizens like Alan Kachalsky and Christina Nikolov should not have to demonstrate good cause in order to exercise a constitutionally-protected civil right,” noted foundation Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb. “Our civil rights, including the right to keep and bear arms, should not be subject to the whims of a local government or its employees, just because they don’t think someone needs a carry permit. Nobody advocates arming criminals or mental defectives, but honest citizens with clean records should not be denied out of hand.
“Thanks to our recent victory before the Supreme Court,” Gottlieb stated, “the Second Amendment now applies to state and local governments. Our lawsuit is a reminder to state and local bureaucrats that we have a Bill of Rights in this country, not a Bill of Needs.”
The North Carolina case claims that state statutes forbidding the carrying of firearms or ammunition when officials declare “states of emergency” are unconstitutional. Further, the plaintiffs say a state law allowing the government to prohibit the sale, purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition is unconstitutional.
The basis for the cases is the U.S. Supreme Court decision in a dispute over a Chicago handgun ban. The decision incorporated the Second Amendment rights to the states.
It followed the 2008 Heller decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in which a Washington, D.C., handgun ban was overturned.