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Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2020 ‘State Right to Bear Arms in New York.’ Other Laws & Policies. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2 December

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State Right to Bear Arms in New York

New York Civil Rights Law art. II, § 4 provides that "[a] well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed."

New York courts have held that the rights conferred by this provision are co-extensive with the rights conferred by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In People v. Perkins, a New York trial court rejected a section four challenge to New York's pistol permit requirement. The defendant relied on the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, holding that the District of Columbia's ban on handgun possession in the home for self-defense violated the Second Amendment. The court rejected this challenge to the state permit requirement, pointing out that the defendant in this case was not in his home at the time of the crime, and did not have a valid pistol permit. According to the court, the right conferred by the Second Amendment –and, by extension, section four– "is not absolute and may be limited by reasonable governmental restrictions." The court reasoned that the state law "does not effect a complete ban on handguns and is, therefore, not a 'severe restriction' improperly infringing upon defendant's Second Amendment rights. Moreover, in our view, New York's licensing requirement remains an acceptable means of regulating the possession of firearms … and will not contravene Heller so long as it is not enforced in an arbitrary and capricious manner."…

[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]

ID: Q8252

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