On June 23, 2022, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen,1 which invalidated the “proper cause” requirement of New York’s “Sullivan Law,” its gun licensing statute. Reactions to this deci-sion were predictably mixed, largely drawn along the regular partisan lines.2 For those concerned about racial justice, this decision created an opportunity for honest dialogue about how to enhance public safety in a nondiscriminatory way while being consistent with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, this was bound to be a lost opportunity in New York given the resistance to meaningfully acknowledging the need for racial justice in the gun conversation, re-cent publicity accorded mass shootings coupled with calls for more gun control, the powerful appeal of tough-on-crime politics, and the historically racialized nature of gun law enforcement. Further, New York’s re-placement statute, which is bound to be challenged in the foreseeable future and likely invalidated as well because of its “sensitive places” provision, does advocates of racial justice no favors.
This Note will be divided into three main parts. Part I will discuss the facts and procedural history of Bruen, the argument made in the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid (BALA) Brief, the Court’s decision, and potential implications. Part II will examine the existing reasons why the opportunity to promote racial justice in the firearm context will be (if it has not already been) squandered in New York. Finally, Part III will ex-amine the new gun licensing scheme that the state government enacted, concluding that New York’s newest firearm statute is a poor attempt to leave the old law as intact as possible.
Zamir Ben-Dan, NYSRPA v. Bruen and New York: A Lost Opportunity for Racial Equity in the Polarizing Gun Conversation, 26 CUNY L. Rev. F. 1 (2023).