A federal judge handed down a significant victory for Second Amendment rights on Tuesday, ruling that New York City's mandate for gun license applicants to demonstrate "good moral character" is unconstitutional. Judge John P. Cronan, appointed during the Trump administration, concluded that this requirement vested officials with excessive discretion in the licensing process, contradicting the principles and historical traditions underpinning the nation's approach to firearm ownership and possession.
Judge Cronan further underscored that the government's argument, justifying the assessment of "good moral character" as a means to distinguish law-abiding citizens from those who are not, lacked a historical basis. In 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that gun control laws must align with historical precedent to be considered valid.
Judge Cronan emphasized that the government had failed to present any historical precedent justifying broad discretion for officials to curtail an individual's Second Amendment rights based on their subjective assessment of "good moral character" or "good cause." This ruling dealt a blow to city officials who had denied gun licenses to Joseph Srour, a Brooklyn resident, in 2019, citing his prior arrests and several driving violations as indicators of a lack of "good moral character."
JUST IN: Trump appointee strikes down NYC gun-license requirement of 'good moral character' https://t.co/fhDC1VX5Rx
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) October 25, 2023
Notably, it came to light during the case that Mr. Srour's criminal charges had actually been dismissed, and the information related to his arrests had been redacted. This revelation further undermined the city's rationale for denying his gun license on the grounds of lacking "good moral character."
Judge Cronan leaned on the Supreme Court's 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen to bolster his decision. In the Bruen case, the conservative majority on the high court invalidated a New York state law that demanded individuals demonstrate a "proper cause" to possess a firearm, arguing that this requirement was inconsistent with the Second Amendment and the historical understanding of it in the United States.
This ruling stands as a poignant reminder that Second Amendment rights should not be encumbered by unnecessary and arbitrary licensing requirements. It represents a significant triumph for the Constitution and the fundamental right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms.