ALBANY – The state’s highest court said Tuesday that part-time residents of New York State can receive handgun permits.
The Court of Appeals said the handgun license law does not just pertain to people who have established domiciles in New York; it rejected as moot an attempt by the person who brought the suit to get the court to rule that his Second Amendment rights were violated.
“We take a straightforward approach to this dispute,” the court wrote in its decision. If the state law does not require proof of domicile to get a handgun license, the court said, “then there is no need to decide the constitutionality of a hypothetical statute that requires domicile.”
The case involved Alfred Osterweil, who had his handgun license denied in 2009 after he told the Schoharie County sheriff that his permanent residence had moved from Schoharie County in New York to Louisiana.
Osterweil said that although he would still live only part of the year in Schoharie County, he and his wife would still continue to play a role in “social, political and community affairs” in New York State.
However, a county judge denied the handgun license, ruling that only full-time residents of New York State can obtain one.
The state handgun licensing law was signed in 1931 by then-Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“The plain language of the statute is not consistent with the theory that the law requires an applicant to establish domicile as an eligibility requirement,” Associate Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. wrote in the ruling by the Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
“Were it so, we would expect to see the manner of proof of domicile set out in the statute.”
A federal court weighing Osterweil’s case earlier this year asked the Court of Appeals to weigh in on the residency component of the state’s handgun licensing law.