A massive gun licensing scandal in New York City, now the subject of a Manhattan federal court trial, could easily be an indictment against so-called “discretionary issue” laws that allow authorities to decide who does or doesn’t get to exercise their right to keep and bear arms, which is supposed to be protected from such corruption by the Constitution.
According to the New York Daily News, what happened in the New York Police Department’s license division amounted to “greenbacks and goodies from Former Assistant Brooklyn District Attorney John Chambers and other gun expediters, to speed up the permitting process.”
Chambers is the first of seven people accused of bribing New York cops in order to smooth the process for getting a gun permit in The Big Apple, according to the New York Post. Gun rights activists have long complained that it takes an inordinate amount of time and expense to get a gun permit in the city.
Ironically, this trial has opened coincidental to the introduction of a national “purchaser licensing” gun control measure by outgoing Connecticut Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, an anti-gun Democrat.
Published accounts so far have quoted former NYPD Sgt. David Villaneuva, a former supervisor in the License Division, who has testified that he accepted “greenbacks and goodies” from Chambers, a former assistant Brooklyn district attorney, and other so-called “gun expediters.” The purpose was allegedly to speed up the process for the privileged, to get or retain gun permits that can take many months for average citizens to obtain, provided their applications are approved.
These courtroom revelations could ultimately provide ample arguments for dismantling such “discretionary issue” systems, replacing them with the kinds of “shall issue” laws now in effect in dozens of states where police and sheriff’s departments are required to issue licenses or permits to any qualified citizen who applies.
Instead, New York is clinging to what many believe is a discriminatory system, by only changing some of the ways it does business, along with changing the License Division staff.
The scandal erupted last year, nine years after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a handgun ban in Washington, D.C., affirming that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms.