Credit: AP

NYPD Issuing Fewer Gun Permits After SCOTUS Struck Down “May Issue” Laws

While blue state Democrats have insisted that their post-Bruen restrictions on the right to carry are meant to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision, it’s abundantly clear that their new policies are meant to defy the Court instead. Case in point: New York City, where despite the number of concealed carry applicants doubling after the city’s “may issue” policy was struck down, licensing authorities have approved far fewer permits than they did under the old system.

In 2021, the NYPD — which vets firearm permits — received 4,663 applications and approved 2,591 of them, about 56%, all under the stricter “proper cause” standard the Supreme Court struck down last year. That standard required gun owners in New York to show “proper cause” in order to receive a permit to carry a weapon, but the court said licenses should be granted by default unless there was a specific reason to deny an applicant.

In 2022, the NYPD saw an increased number of new applications — 7,260 — but approved just 1,550, or 21%, even though applications filed in the second half of that year no longer had to meet the “proper cause” standard where applicants had to make an affirmative case for why they needed a license.

In the six months after the high court’s ruling in New York State Rifle vs. Bruen, from June 24, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022, the NYPD saw a surge in new gun permit applications, from just over 2,000 in the same period a year earlier to nearly 5,000. So far, the department has approved 503 of those, or just above 10%, despite its guidelines and state law requiring applications to be decided upon within six months.

It’s been more than a year since the Bruen decision came down, and yet there are thousands of applicants who are still stuck in a legal limbo. As The City notes, most of the new applications haven’t been formally denied, but have been “pending” for months on end.

“‘Holy shoot, what do we do now?’” said attorney Peter Tilem, describing the conversations he suspected were playing out behind closed doors at the NYPD’s gun permitting department. “Let’s not decide anything and let’s figure out what our options are.’”

Tilem represents gun owners in a class-action lawsuit against the NYPD over delays in the NYPD’s gun-permitting system. “New York City has operated one way for 100 years,” he added.

The NYPD didn’t return multiple requests for comment and clarification on the data, which emerged in court papers filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court at the end of this June.

That court case involves a 52-year-old software engineer named Dexter Taylor, who’s facing multiple charges of illegal gun possession after police discovered 13 home-built firearms in Taylor’s Brooklyn apartment last April. Taylor’s attorney Vinoo Varghese contends that his client never tried to lawfully register his firearms because he knew that there was little chance he would have been approved.

Varghese is seeking to get the charges against Taylor dismissed, arguing in court papers submitted last month that there was no way Taylor could have gotten a permit to keep guns in his home legally. That’s because of what he argues is the NYPD’s molasses-like, corruption-prone permitting process, which he says violated Taylor’s constitutional right to bear arms.

“A right delayed is a right denied,” Varghese said. “They could bury their heads in the sand and try to categorize good men like Dexter Taylor with gangbangers. But that just doesn’t make any sense.”

The district attorney’s office has until July 28 to respond to the motion to dismiss.

The court papers cite the drop in approvals for residential gun permits between 2021 and 2022, the time during which Taylor said he was newly enamored with learning how to build and maintain his own 3D-printed guns.

In 2021, according to the data, the NYPD approved 352 of 1,841 applications for permits to keep guns in a person’s home, or over 19%. In 2022, that approval rate plummeted, with the NYPD approving just 86 of 2,266 new residence permit applications submitted, or under 4%, though that approval rate may shift as the NYPD reviews additional applications.

I don’t know how successful Varghese’s argument will be in court, but even with all those pending applications its pretty clear that the NYPD is slow walking its approvals; stretching the process out far beyond the six months the department is supposedly allotted by law. There are no legal or financial consequences for the NYPD licensing bureau for those delays, though as The City mentions, attorney Peter Tilem is suing the city on behalf of several clients and seeking class action status for all those whose rights have been hindered by the department’s refusal to process their applications in a timely manner. We’ve had Tilem on Cam & Co a few times since the lawsuit was filed, and it sounds like it’s time for an update.
Meanwhile, the department’s policy of slow-walking permit approval is only going to lead to more folks who are legally eligible to exercise their Second Amendment rights doing so without waiting for their government-issued permission slip. New York City’s gun control regime is creating lawbreakers, turning otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals simply for exercising their right to keep and bear arms, and unless or until the courts step in and slap down New York City’s practices the abuses are going to continue.

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