American Rifleman - February 2015 - 16

OFFICIAL JOURNAL

political report
By Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA Executive Director

Buffaloed in New York: A Right Treated as a
Privilege Makes an Easy Target for Revocation

D

uring a press conference in
November, Police Commissioner
Daniel Derrenda of Buffalo, N.Y.,
announced that his department had
"started a program where ... we're crossreferencing all the pistol permit holders
with the death records ... and ... sending
people out to collect the guns whenever
possible." He seemed haunted by the idea
of handguns unattached to living licensees and spoke of them almost as if they
were unsupervised, easily corruptible
orphans: "At times, they lay out there, and
the family is not aware of them ... and
they end up ... just out on the street."

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The plan rightly enraged many as
being overbearing. Fortunately, in the
weeks since the announcement was
made, we haven't heard of any grieving survivors whose doors have been
kicked down by police looking for their
departed loved ones' handguns.
Whatever the Buffalo PD may have
in mind with this particular operation,
it illustrates what can happen when
the most basic and well-established of

Second Amendment-protected rights-
having a handgun in the home for selfprotection-is subject to licensing and
registration. While questions remain about
if and how the plan will proceed, Commissioner Derrenda's comments illustrate
some of the assumptions that underlie
the licensing and registration of firearms.
All of them are incompatible with the idea
of the Second Amendment as protecting
a fundamental individual right that, as
the Heller court wrote, "necessarily takes
certain policy choices off the table."
Before Heller, New York courts justified the state's strict gun control laws by
denying that the Second Amendment
protected any sort of individual right. For
example, a 2004 opinion by a three-judge
panel of the Second Circuit that included
Sonia Sotomayor-later nominated by
President Obama to the U.S. Supreme
Court-dismissed the appellant's Second
Amendment claim in a footnote. According to the appellant, merely being seen
with a handgun could not be considered
automatic evidence of criminality, and
New York law to the contrary violated the
Second Amendment. The court cited earlier Second Circuit precedent that stated,
"The right to possess a gun is clearly
not a fundamental right." Of course, that
precedent has been since been overruled
by Heller and McDonald. Yet much of New
York's gun control regime has not only
survived those decisions; rather, it has
become even stricter in recent years.
Legal possession of a handgun in New
York, even in one's own home, requires a
license. An applicant must demonstrate
"good moral character" to the issuing official. Assuming that condition is met, the
license can still be denied for "good cause,"
whatever that might mean to the person
who issues the license. New York courts
have repeatedly ruled that these provisions
give licensing officers discretion to expand
upon the statutorily enumerated disqualifiers, even after Heller and McDonald.

Incredibly, a 2011 case from the
Appellate Division of the New York
Supreme Court, decided nearly a year
after the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonald
ruled that possession of a handgun is a
fundamental right, stated, "Possession
of a handgun license is a privilege, not
a right. ..." As such, in New York, "it is
subject to the broad discretion of the
Police Commissioner." Thus, for example,
while certain misdemeanor convictions
are automatic disqualifiers, a person can
also be denied merely for having been
accused of a crime, even if the complaint
was ultimately dismissed or resolved in
that person's favor. So much for being
innocent until proven guilty.
The U.S. Supreme Court's clear
decision that possessing a handgun is a
fundamental right the state must respect,
rather than merely a reward for what
a local bureaucrat considers good behavior, is being massively resisted by the
state of New York. It completely defies
Heller's pronouncement that the "very
enumeration of the right takes out of the
hands of government ... the power to
decide on a case-by-case basis whether
the right is really worth insisting upon."
No wonder, then, that Commissioner
Derrenda presumes that any possession
of a handgun that has not first received
some official blessing is a problem to be
solved, not the innocent exercise of an
inalienable right. Those who insist that
the exercise of rights can proceed only
by permission-like the advocates of
universal background checks-do so on
the same basic assumptions. Where such
measures are the law of the land, "collection" activities like the one announced in
Buffalo should come as no surprise.

NRA-ILA: (800) 392-8683 * NRA-ILA website: www.nraila.org * View this column online at www.nrapublications.org

16

FEBRUARY 2015

AMERICAN RIFLEMAN


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American Rifleman - February 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Rifleman - February 2015

Contents
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Cover1
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Cover2
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 1
American Rifleman - February 2015 - Contents
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 3
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 4
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 5
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 6
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 7
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 8
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 9
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 10
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 11
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 12
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 13
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 14
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 15
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 16
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 17
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 18
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 19
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 20
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 21
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 22
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 23
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 24
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 25
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 26
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 27
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 28
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 29
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 30
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 31
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 32
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 33
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 34
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 35
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 36
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 37
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 38
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 39
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 40
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 41
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 42
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 43
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 44
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 45
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 46
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 47
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 48
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 49
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 50
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 51
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 52
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 53
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 54
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 55
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 56
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 57
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 58
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 59
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 60
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 61
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 62
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 63
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 64
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 65
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 66
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 67
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 68
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 69
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 70
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 71
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 72
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 73
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 74
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 75
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 76
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 77
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 78
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 79
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 80
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 81
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 82
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American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90b
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91b
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90c
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91c
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90d
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91d
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90e
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91e
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 90f
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 91f
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 92
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 93
American Rifleman - February 2015 - 94
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American Rifleman - February 2015 - 100
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American Rifleman - February 2015 - Cover4
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