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Trump Administration Rejects NYC’s ‘Good Moral Character’ Requirement for Gun Licenses

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that New York City’s requirement for a gun license applicant to have “good moral character” ran afoul of the Constitution.

Judge John P. Cronan, a Trump appointee, said the requirement gave officials “vast discretion on licensing,” which was inconsistent with the nation’s founding and traditions related to firearm ownership and possession.

He also reasoned that the government’s argument that the “good moral character” assessment was needed to separate law-abiding citizens from those who are not law-abiding lacks a historical analogue, which the Supreme Court ruled in 2022 was required for gun control laws to pass muster.

The government has “not identified any historical analogue for investing officials with the broad discretion to restrict someone’s Second Amendment right based on determining the person to ‘lack good moral character’ or for a vague and undefined notion of ‘good cause,’” Judge Cronan wrote.

The case was brought by Joseph Srour, a Brooklyn man, who had applications for gun licenses denied in 2019. City officials told Mr. Srour he had two prior arrests and several driving violations, so he lacked “good moral character” for the licenses.

According to the ruling, Mr. Srour’s criminal charges were actually dismissed. The information related to his two arrests, though, had been redacted.

Judge Cronan relied on the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen that held any gun control measure must be rooted in the nation’s history and tradition when issuing his ruling.

In Bruen, the conservative majority on the high court ruled a New York state law invalid that required people to show a proper cause to possess a firearm. The court reasoned the requirement was inconsistent with the Second Amendment dating back to the founding.

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