The recent historic handgun ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court should have no impact on gun control and licensing provisions in New York state, a local judge has concluded.
Onondaga County Judge William Walsh ruled the June 26 Supreme Court ruling striking down the District of Columbia's strict handgun ban has no effect on the rights of individual states to establish their own firearm laws.
Walsh made that finding in a written decision in which he reinstated a local man's pistol permit with limitations.
The Supreme Court may have recognized the right of individuals to possess lawful firearms in their homes, but it did not overrule the established precedent that the Second Amendment applies only to Congress and not to the states, Walsh wrote.
The Supreme Court's ruling would have an impact in the nation's capital because the District of Columbia is not a state and is under the jurisdiction of Congress, the judge decided. But it would not have an impact on states' rights to establish firearms laws, he concluded.
In the matter before Walsh, Daniel M. Groff, of Bridgeport, had had a pistol permit since 1991 that allowed him the unrestricted right to carry a concealed weapon. The judge noted the permit had been revoked in May based on the filing of DWI and reckless driving charges against Groff in Sullivan, Madison County.
With proof that Groff pleaded guilty to reckless driving and paid a $300 fine, Walsh last week ordered his pistol permit reinstated. But the judge concluded the original decision allowing Groff to carry a concealed weapon had been a mistake.
An "unrestricted carry concealed permit" can be issued based on a showing a person has "a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession," Walsh noted.
Groff's original application indicated he needed the permit for "target shooting, personal protection, hunting" with no elaboration, the judge noted. He concluded target shooting and hunting did not warrant the issuance of a permit allowing Groff to carry a concealed weapon.
The judge further concluded the "unsubstantiated claim of the need for personal protection" was not sufficient to allow Groff to carry a concealed weapon.
Based on that and Groff's prior unblemished record, the judge agreed to reinstate his pistol permit but restricted it to possession on premises or for the purposes of hunting and target shooting.
Groff said recently he was unaware of the judge's decision about his pistol permit. He said he would await a copy of the ruling before deciding if he wanted to challenge the limitations.
Walsh wrote that the ability of New York residents to keep and bear arms is a privilege granted by statute. The state's constitution contains no such guarantee, he added.
"Thus, the issuance of a pistol license remains but a privilege subject to reasonable regulation under New York State law and the licensing officer is conferred with broad discretion in determining whether to issue, revoke, cancel or restrict such a license," Walsh wrote.
Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said Walsh is "probably right" in his interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling and its impact.
"That's the way it is," he said.
King said he had never expected the Supreme Court ruling in the District of Columbia case to end up striking down licensing laws and restrictions in states and communities across the country. It will require other court challenges around the country in the wake of that recent ruling to determine what impact it may ultimately have, he said.
King said there were no known challenges at this point to the laws in New York based on the Supreme Court ruling.