Supreme Court vacates 2nd Circuit ruling to uphold NYS concealed carry laws, remands back for new decision

Posted 7/9/24

CANTON – Concealed carried firearms will be allowed in a number of previously prohibited spaces, at least temporarily,  following a Supreme Court decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court has …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Supreme Court vacates 2nd Circuit ruling to uphold NYS concealed carry laws, remands back for new decision


Story updated July 9 at 3:03 p.m.

CANTON – Concealed carried firearms will be allowed in a number of previously prohibited spaces, at least temporarily,  following a Supreme Court decision.

The U.S. Supreme Court has vacated a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold the controversial Concealed Carry Improvement Act, remanding the case back to the Appeals Court for another look.

In doing so, the Supreme Court has in essence reverted back to a Northern District court decision from Justice Glenn T. Suddaby that largely ruled the CCIA to be unconstitutional until the 2nd Circuit weighs in again.

Ongoing legal battle

Antonyuk v. James is one that has been playing out even prior to Oct. 2022 when St. Lawrence County Attorney Steve Button began his work of counsel. St. Lawrence County legislators approved his involvement in the case, saying the lawsuit could have a direct impact on the rights of citizens in the county.

Button spoke with North Country This Week, saying the case is far from over but that he and county officials were pleased with the Supreme Court's decision.

"This case has significant consequences not only for the citizens of St. Lawrence County, but for New York State in general. With the Supreme Court now weighing in and remanding the case back to the 2nd Circuit, we feel that our legal arguments are strong and falls in line with the Bruen decision," he said.

The Bruen decision Button spoke of comes from the landmark case NYSRPA v. Bruen that the Supreme Court ruled on, greatly expanding gun rights and the definition of the 2nd Amendment.

Under the ruling, many gun rights organizations have since launched lawsuits against state lawmakers, arguing laws passed to ban "assault rifles" and high capacity magazines, among others, violate the 2nd Amendment.

Button said cases are now weighed against a historical analogue that must be consistent with those passed at the founding of the nation and when the 2nd Amendment was ratified in 1791.

In many cases, state lawmakers and attorneys general have since pivoted to an 1868 interpretation of the laws, arguing that post-Reconstruction Era urban centers were on the rise and further restrictions on firearms became necessary for the safety of the public.

But critics of that interpretation say those laws were founded in racist rhetoric as governments sought to keep firearms out of the hands of Native Americans, freed slaves and former Confederate soldiers and sympathizers who may harbor those allegiances post-Civil War.

What does it mean?

Button said in the end until the 2nd Circuit issues a new ruling, Judge Suddaby's decision will stand.

That means that the vast majority of prohibited spaces previously upheld by the 2nd Circuit are no longer valid, though schools, government property, polling places and healthcare facilities will be off limits to lawful concealed carry.

Previously prohibited spaces that are tentatively open to lawful concealed carry again include bars and restaurants, houses of worship, public transportation, establishments that sell alcohol and cannabis for on-site consumption, art and entertainment centers, gaming and sporting events, public sidewalks during permitted events, gatherings where individuals meet to express constitutional rights, as well as Times Square.

Any location that explicitly states lawful conceal carry is not allowed or has a known policy against the concealed carry of firearms is prohibited, however.

Gun rights organizations previously argued that under the original interpretation of the CCIA, anecdotally 97% of the state would have been considered a prohibited space.

Even after language was adopted in the 2023 budget bill that excluded the Adirondack Park and Catskills Park as prohibited spaces, critics of the legislation said nearly half of the state was still a prohibited space, essentially nullifying a conceal carry license.

Button offered praise for the many organizations that filed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs and Gun Owners of America, with whom Button has been working on the case, including the New York State Sheriff's Association.

Button credited St. Lawrence County Sheriff Patrick "Rick" Engle for "going to bat for the people of St. Lawrence County" in urging the Association to file on the plaintiff's behalf.

"Sheriff Engle really was instrumental in getting the Association to send a brief in support of the case. It can't be understated just how significant that was to the case," Button said.

He commented that a number of briefs were filed in support of the case, saying they certainly carried weight as the Supreme Court reviewed the case again on July 1.

With the Supreme Court now remanding the case back to the 2nd Circuit, Button said that everyone is "in uncharted waters" and does not know just how long it will take before the 2nd Circuit reissues a decision.

A second look

He did say, however, that by the Supreme Court remanding the case back to the appeals court that does not absolve them of the case.
“This simply means they want the 2nd Circuit to review the case through a new scope based on the Rahimi (U.S. v. Rahimi) decision but we still have the option to appeal to the Supreme Court again if necessary,” he said.

In U.S. v. Rahimi, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said a federal law that prohibits convicted felons from having guns was unconstitutional as applied.

The case revolves around a ruling that saw Zackey Rahimi lose his Second Amendment rights following a felony conviction.
Rahimi was convicted of possessing a gun while he was the subject of an order of protection stemming from a domestic violence charge.
According to police, Rahimi allegedly assaulted his domestic partner in a parking lot and shot a gun after he saw bystanders had witnessed the alleged assault.

Despite the circumstances of the arrest and conviction, Rahimi challenged the law, saying it was a violation of his Second Amendment rights.

In the end, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled againt Rahimi by an 8-1 margin, saying his felony conviction precluded him from purchasing and possessing a firearm, especially with an order of protection filed against him by his former domestic partner.