A federal judge has ruled against a gun restriction in New York City that gives officials the ability to deny gun permits based on a vaguely worded clause regarding those who are “not of good moral character.”
Judge John Cronan ruled that the city is violating the Second Amendment as well as the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The case was brought by Joseph Srour, who was denied a permit for rifles and shotguns in his home because officials said he had prior arrests, past traffic tickets, and had made false statements on his permit application.
In June of 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Bruen v. New York decision, which denied a different New York gun restriction, that Americans have a constitutional right to carry firearms in public for self-defense.
Since then, various lower courts have been striking down other gun restrictions.
Judge Cronan wrote, “the provisions fail to pass constitutional muster because of the magnitude of discretion afforded to city officials in denying an individual their constitutional right to keep and bear firearms.” He also said the notifications that Srour had been sent by the New York Police Department “are not models of clarity in explaining the precise legal grounds for denying his applications to possess firearms.”
“Without doubt, the very notions of ‘good moral character’ and ‘good cause’ are inherently exceedingly broad and discretionary. Someone may be deemed to have good moral character by one person, yet a very morally flawed character by another. Such unfettered discretion is hard, if not impossible, to reconcile with Bruen,” Cronan wrote in his ruling, which will no doubt be appealed by New York City.
Meanwhile, the challenged provisions of the regulations were amended by the New York City Police Department following the denial of Srour’s applications for firearms licenses and during the months leading up to the trial, yet the police department and city failed to notify the court of the amendment. Thus, Judge Cronan did not rule on the amended language.