D.A. Bragg Defends Essential Gun Violence Laws Against Pro-Gun Court Challenges

January 18, 2023

“Combatting gun violence is my top priority, and I am going to use every tool available to keep Manhattanites safe.”  -D.A. Bragg

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr., today announced the filing of two amicus briefs in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit supporting recent New York State legislation seeking to prevent gun violence. The first brief was submitted in the ongoing litigation over the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (“CCIA”), a law that Governor Hochul signed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, which struck down provisions of New York’s concealed-carry requirements. The brief was joined by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark. The second brief is in support of Senator Zellnor Myrie’s legislation that allows public nuisance civil lawsuits to be brought against gun manufacturers.

“Combatting gun violence is my top priority, and I am going to use every tool available to keep Manhattanites safe,” said District Attorney Bragg. “We prosecute gun cases in court every day, and litigation is another important avenue we are utilizing to protect our state’s tough gun laws. The human toll gun violence has taken on our communities is enormous, and New Yorkers deserve nothing less than the most robust possible protection under the law.”

In addition to these amicus briefs, the Manhattan D.A.’s Office has vigorously defended its gun prosecutions against motions seeking dismissal of gun charges under Bruen. To date, the Office has received nearly thirty favorable decisions upholding the validity of its gun prosecutions.

Concealed Carry Improvement Act
The District Attorney’s brief asks a federal appeals court to reverse a district court’s order granting a preliminary injunction against the CCIA.

The brief states that “addressing gun crime in New York requires an approach that accounts for the unique circumstances of New York City. The Legislature appropriately took these concerns into account in enacting the CCIA.” Furthermore, it argues that “Governments have thus long prohibited gun possession in locations where they deemed these concerns most salient,” and that “Any analysis that disregards the realities of this country’s largest city would improperly treat historical designations of sensitive locations as formalistic labels, rather than as practical responses to the dangers that those communities deemed at the time to be the most pressing. The New York Legislature properly translated these historical concerns to modern circumstances in the CCIA’s lists of sensitive locations.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “While we have made encouraging progress reducing murders and shootings, the Supreme Court’s decision overturning a century-old law that helped protect New Yorkers from gun violence is a disaster, and I applaud our state leaders for taking quick action passing legislation to keep the public safe. I am proud to join with my fellow District Attorneys encouraging the courts to uphold these important laws that are essential to the success of our multi-faceted efforts to end gun violence in New York City.”

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said: “The scourge of gun violence continues to steal family, friends, and loved ones from our communities, leaving heartache and hardship in its tragic wake.  We must continue fighting this plague, on the streets and in the courts, with all our might and resources.”

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “We support this law because keeping guns out of sensitive locations is critical to public safety in New York City.”

Public Nuisance Legislation
The brief argues that a federal appeals court should affirm a district court order rejecting a challenge to the law.

It notes how that this legislation “is a critical complement to [the office’s] criminal prosecutions. Although downstream enforcement of New York’s criminal firearms laws is an important and effective tool in the fight to prevent gun violence, upstream safeguards that make it more difficult for gun traffickers to ply their trade help to stem unlawful firearms from being trafficked in the first place. The commonsense safeguards that the statute encourages in the gun industry are thus an essential part of a full-spectrum approach to combating gun trafficking and preventing gun violence.”

The brief notes that the underlying intent of the bill aligns with the District Attorney’s broader efforts to combat gun violence beyond just prosecution, as “Criminal prosecutions of the unlawful use and possession of firearms, however, are only part of the solution to the scourge of gun violence. DANY also devotes considerable resources to addressing the underlying causes of violent crimes, a crucial component of law enforcement’s effort to stop gun violence.”  

These amicus briefs were prepared by Assistant D.A.s John Hughes and Phil Tisne, under the supervision of Chief of the Appeals Division Steven C. Wu.