In a sign that federal courts here in New York will defend New York City's restrictive gun regulations, a judge is allowing the city to strip a disabled Vietnam War veteran of his gun license.
The decision, handed down this week, is likely the first court ruling to deal with New York's gun-permitting scheme since the Supreme Court declared that the Second Amendment gives citizens an individual right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.
The veteran who lost his gun license, Dominick DiNapoli, said the Supreme Court's decision ought to require that he gets back his gun permit.
"Who needs a gun more than someone like me, who is disabled and can't physically defend his home?" Mr. DiNapoli said in an interview.
The court decision, by Judge William Pauley III of U.S. District Court in Manhattan, does not mention the Second Amendment and defers entirely to the New York City Police Department's permitting process. New York's gun-licensing system is expected to come under challenge soon on allegations that it restricts law-abiding citizens from keeping guns at home for self-defense.
In 1970, police first issued Mr. DiNapoli, then a deer hunter, a license for a shotgun or rifle. In 2002, the department revoked it, citing both a brief period during which Mr. DiNapoli was homeless and criminal charges that had been filed against him and subsequently dropped, Judge Pauley wrote in the decision.
During the time Mr. DiNapoli was homeless — he was evicted from his apartment in 2001 — and failed to inform the police department of a change of address, as is required of permitted gun owners, Judge Pauley noted.
The criminal charges against Mr. DiNapoli, filed in 2000, alleged that he had sent a threatening letter to employees of the federal Department of Agriculture regarding his difficulties in obtaining food stamps. Federal prosecutors subsequently dropped the charges in 2004.
Mr. DiNapoli said he never threatened federal employees. He said that he had written to request food stamps and explain that he was having difficulty paying rent, which had, in turn, led to a feud with his landlord. Mr. DiNapoli said he had written that he feared the feud would turn violent and that he might need to use his guns in self-defense.
In the end, the police department had decided that the Mr. DiNapoli's actions "indicated a lack of good moral character for firearms possession," Judge Pauley wrote.
Mr. DiNapoli's suit argued that the police department places illegal administrative obstacles between people and firearm licenses, by requiring repeated visits to One Police Plaza to submit paperwork or attend hearings and interviews.
Mr. DiNapoli's suit claims that his disabilities — he suffers from joint disease, back trouble, and vertigo — render him unable to travel to One Police Plaza from his home in the Bronx to attend the hearings relating to his case.
In court papers, Mr. DiNapoli explains his complaint by quoting directly from the Declaration of Independence. He accuses the police department of holding inconvenient hearings "for the sole purpose of fatiguing" people "into compliance," one of the grievances listed against King George III. Mr. DiNapoli is a former UPS employee and self-employed woodworker, he said.
He now spends most of his time writing to various government agencies and trying to secure accomodation for his disabilities.