TOWN OF NEW BREMEN, N.Y. (WWNY) - When it comes to carrying a concealed weapon, Second Amendment advocates say New York’s law is too strict.
Patrick Morse owns a gun shop in the town of New Bremen, where he also offers National Rifle Association certified training courses.
“An individual has the right to have a handgun in the home. Now we want to say, well, it’s not just in the home. Self-defense doesn’t shut at your front door,” said Morse, owner of No. 4 Tactical Firearms and Training Center.
The U.S. Supreme Court will be looking at licensing laws for carrying a gun in public.
New Yorkers bringing the suit say the state makes it nearly impossible for the average law-abiding citizen to attain that license. Gun owners will tell you it’s easier here to get an unrestricted license, but that can vary county by county.
“People who live in Boonville are under a totally different set of rules than people who live in Port Leyden just 10 minutes away,” said Morse.
Bill Kleftis is a pistol instructor for Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego counties and sees the inconsistencies firsthand.
“Hopefully, this case will add more clarity to when an individual can carry a firearm,” he said.
Kleftis argues loosening restrictions nationwide would decrease crime because more people would be able to defend themselves and he says those who do commit gun violence will likely do it regardless of regulations.
“In a 2016 survey that was conducted of prison inmates, those who used firearms in a crime, only 7 percent used a firearm that was a legal purchase through the FFL (Federal Firearms License). A lot of these restrictions that are applied onto legal gun owners just make it difficult for legal gun owners. Those who do it illegally will just continue to do it illegally,” he said.
The Supreme Court’s decision to take on the case comes in the wake of a string of mass shootings in the U.S. Gun rights advocates say allowing people to carry a weapon in public could help prevent those.
“If some of those people who are victims had a way to defend themselves, they might not have died,” said Morse.
That’s something gun control advocates disagree with.
“I do not think that most Americans want to be pushing their kids in the swing at the park and have someone who has a loaded semi-automatic gun in their holster,” said Jon Lowy, chief counsel & vice president of legal, Brady United Against Gun Violence.
Lowy says New Yorkers may choose to loosen gun restrictions by voting in lawmakers who support that. He says bringing the issue to court is wrong.
“It should not be the judges, who sit in the comfort of their chambers, who are deciding whether Americans live or die,” he said.
Gun rights advocates say restricting where a person can carry a gun is unconstitutional.
“There’s a lot of reasons to carry a firearm, but at the end of the day it’s our Second Amendment right and we can have one,” said Morse.
Lowy says there are more rights at stake.
“Americans have a right to live. They have a right to be safe. They have a right to enjoy their parks and streets and neighborhoods and not have a gun shoved in their face. Those rights should be respected,” he said.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in the fall.