NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court gave the green light Tuesday to a law permitting New York City to charge hundreds of dollars for a gun licensing fee that costs $3 to $10 elsewhere in the state,
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the $340 handgun fee for a three-year license was legal for the same reasons that fees imposed on those seeking to stage a rally or a parade are constitutional.
"Imposing fees on the exercise of constitutional rights is permissible when the fees are designed to defray (and do not exceed) the administrative costs of regulating the protected activity," the appeals court said.
The city had told the court that revenue generated by licensing fees before the fee was increased in 2004 covered just over half of the related administrative expenses.
The ruling rejected a lawsuit brought in 2011 by guns rights advocates including the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association and the Second Amendment Foundation. The groups had challenged the law permitting New York City and neighboring Nassau County on Long Island to charge more than the $3 to $10 required for a handgun license elsewhere in the state.
Attorney David Jensen said the plaintiffs were considering an appeal.
"We are disappointed with the court's decision and are contemplating how to proceed," he said.
Susan Paulson, a lawyer for the city, said the court "properly recognized that the city's licensing process is designed to promote public safety and prevent gun violence."
In a concurring opinion, Circuit Judge John M. Walker wrote that the case presented complicated questions in an area of law in which the Supreme Court had provided limited guidance.
"The full import or the Second Amendment right and the government's burden to justify the infringement of this right in different contexts remain opaque," he wrote.