This week, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and the National Urban League filed an amicus brief in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, which asks whether a New York gun safety law that requires a person to show “proper cause,” or a special need for self-protection, to carry a concealed firearm outside their home violates the Second Amendment.

The brief argues that states’ authority to limit the public carrying of firearms is well-established and has resulted in reduced handgun violence and deaths. The brief highlights how historically, concealed carry restrictions have been implemented and enforced to protect Black people, and how today, concealed carry restrictions continue to play an important role in reducing handgun violence against Black people, and especially young Black men.

“In the years following the Fourteenth Amendment, pro-Reconstruction state legislatures passed public carry restrictions to protect formerly enslaved Black Americans from gun violence perpetrated by those committed to maintaining white supremacy,” said Director of Litigation Samuel Spital. “That Reconstruction-era understanding of states’ authority to restrict public carry belies any argument that, in applying the Second Amendment to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment, the Reconstruction Congress and state legislatures intended to prohibit reasonable restrictions on public carry.”

The brief also emphasizes that concealed carry restrictions are still a vital tool for reducing handgun violence against Black victims, including from racially biased crimes involving concealed firearms.

The brief closes by addressing arguments by Petitioners and their amici that New York’s firearms regulations are tainted by racial discrimination in their origins and enforcement.

“Racial discrimination in the origins or enforcement of any law, including concealed carry restrictions, inflicts graves harms and is patently unconstitutional.” said Mahogane Reed, LDF’s John Payton Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy Fellow. “But the points raised by Petitioners and their amici, if proven, would not authorize an ahistorical Second Amendment interpretation that broadly undermines states’ public carry restrictions, and thereby limits states’ ability to protect Black people from gun violence. Instead, these concerns should be resolved directly through a fair application of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, which prohibits racial discrimination.”

Read our amicus brief here.

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on TwitterInstagram and Facebook