More on Whether HR822 Covers New York City

There’s a principle in statutory construction that statutes should be read in a way that gives effect to the will of the legislature. Pretty clearly the language that preempts “the law of any State or political subdivision thereof,” would be key here. But it’s not just that. It’s also what legislators are arguing. The following is from the Congressional Record:

[A]nybody who has a concealed carry permit from the State of South Dakota goes to New York and is in Central Park, Central Park would be a much safer place.

– John Thune, Senator sponsor of the amendment, 7/22/2009

Known gun runners would go to Vermont, get a gun license, get a concealed carry permit, and they could get 20, 30, 50 guns concealed in a backpack, in a suitcase, and bring them and sell them on the streets of the south Bronx or central Brooklyn, bring them to Central Park or Queens, and our local police would have their hands tied.

– Charles Schumer, in the Congressional Record, 7/21/2009

In addition to this, schumer is also on record in the same day’s record saying the bill “would affect every city in the country.” We also have to consider statements by NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly:

New York City’s strict requirements as to who can carry a concealed weapon have contributed to the city’s unparalleled public safety. Our effort, indeed our entire mission, would be severely undercut by this bill. In a city where 90 percent of all guns used in crimes come from out of State, it is easy to see how S. 845 would pose a danger to New Yorkers by greatly increasing the availability of illegal handguns for purchase.

So clearly on both sides we have ample evidence that legislators on both sides of the issue understand that New York City is subject to this law. I just wanted everyone to be aware there’s two sides to every issue. There may be a plausible reading that suggests NYC is exempted as an off limits place under New York State Law, but there’s an equally plausible, and possibly stronger reading that it is covered.

It would be nice if the language could be made more clear, but great precision is difficult to get out of the sausage grinder of Congress. It’s a given that there will be handful of states, cities, and local municipalities that will challenge whatever language comes out. My concern is people are aware of the risks, and how the language could be twisted and interpreted. Ultimately it is the courts who decide these things, and it’s worthwhile pointing out there are plausible arguments each way.

8 thoughts on “More on Whether HR822 Covers New York City”

  1. What about states with registration requirements or magazine capacity restrictions? If I want to carry my glock 19 in California will I have to buy new 10 round magazines?

  2. Commissioner Kelly: New York City’s strict requirements as to who can carry a concealed weapon have contributed to the city’s unparalleled public safety.


    Is there ANY evidence that this is true?

    No. None whatsoever. And said statement flies in the face of the experience of legal concealed carry in EVERY other jurisdiction.

    I call bullshit.

  3. Chuck was really off his meds that day, wasn’t he? How much BS can one man fit into a single rant?

    What “gun license” do you need in VT (obviously separate from a CCW, since he says they would get that next)? What “known gun runners” are going to qualify for a VT “gun license”? What “known gun runners” are going to qualify for a VT CCW? And why would reciprocity mean immunity from prosecution for selling handguns without an FFL across state lines? How would their local police have their hands tied (besides not being able to beat down law abiding citizens for having the audacity to want to protect themselves in NYC)?

  4. The intent and understanding of a bill’s proponents should be assigned more weight than the opposition. Opponents tend to make wildly exaggerated claims in an effort to make a bill look bad.

  5. I don’t think it’d matter how clear and concise the wording was that allowed you to carry in NYC I’m pretty sure the NYPD would still be cuffing and stuffing people until they lost a federal civil rights lawsuit.

  6. Well speaking as a city resident, bloomberg and kelly WILL ignore this law. We’ll have to go to court. So be it, until a judge says something that’ll wipe the dumb laws out.

  7. 50 guns in a backpack? I’ll have to confess my ignorance on this matter: I’m not an expert in all the wide varieties of guns. That, and when I think “pistol”, I tend to think “1911” or “Beretta M9”. But doesn’t a gun typically weigh about one pound? So a backpack full of guns would weigh fifty pounds!

    Not entirely impossible…but are we really expected to believe that people are just *itching* to do this? At least, those who aren’t already doing so?

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