Conservatives and Second Amendment advocates (myself included) frequently go after the mainstream media for pushing their anti-gun narrative. The Washington Post is usually among the list of suspects. For once, they got something right. The legacy outlet published an opinion piece from a group of attorneys that filed an amicus curiae brief in the Bruen case.
Aimee Carlisle, Christopher Smith, and Michael Alexander Thomas represent low-income New Yorkers through their group, the Bronx Defenders. The attorneys indicated the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision is a win, not just for Second Amendment supporters, but for the social justice crowd as well
The Supreme Court Made the Appropriate Decision In Bruen
The authors made the same argument Second Amendment supporters frequently do: “may issue” statutes frequently harm low-income people of color.
According to the attorneys, otherwise law-abiding New Yorkers became criminals because they were carrying firearms without a CCW permit – the very permits sheriffs were rarely issuing. And it’s why the Supreme Court was correct in the Bruen decision:
In our brief, we shared stories of clients who made the personal choice to carry a firearm for self-defense. Of police ransacking cars to look for guns and frisking people on the streets. Of people who were arrested, couldn’t afford bail, and languished at Rikers Island, one of the most dangerous jails in the country.
Because possession of an unlicensed, loaded firearmis a “violent felony” under New York law, people with no criminal record who are convicted face a mandatory minimum sentence of 3½ years in prison; the maximum is 15 years. They can lose their jobs, their housing, their children and, if they are not citizens, their right to live in the United States. All for carrying a gun without ever threatening anyone or pulling the trigger — conduct that in many states is not a crime at all.
Further, New York gun laws extend broadly. For example, a gun can be considered “loaded,” triggering higher sentences, even when it is not — for example if ammunition is not in the gun itself but instead is somewhere in the same room, even buried in a closet. If a firearm is in a car, the government regularly charges every person in the car for possessing that firearm, even when one person admits the gun was theirs. Ask yourself: The last time a friend gave you a ride, did you search the car for guns? Should you face a 3½-year mandatory minimum prison sentence if you didn’t?
Where to Go After the Bruen Decision
The attorneys believe the Bruen decision makes things “clear” for prosecutors. They believe all previous convictions stemming from the unconstitutional state law need to be thrown out.
Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, prosecutors must dismiss all gun cases that punish people for engaging in constitutionally protected activity and free them from jail. As state lawmakers weigh their legislative response to the decision, we hope they will finally safeguard New Yorkers’ right to keep and bear arms and create a system free of racism.
We hope New York will finally stop criminalizing people for exercising their individual right to carry firearms.
Where We Can Agree
Second Amendment supporters and social justice advocates, like the attorneys that penned this opinion piece, have a large area where we can agree on this issue and the Bruen decision.
“May issue” statutes turn law-abiding Americans into criminals in the blink of an eye. These statutes keep domestic violence survivors, sexual assault survivors, and low-income Americans from legally carrying a firearm. The only thing these statutes do is protect the wealthy elite. And they’re not the ones that need the Second Amendment for self-defense purposes.