When I lived in New York City, I could carry a concealed gun because I was the manager of a wholesale gun business. In 1983, the day after I notified the police that I was closing down the business because we had sold the building we used for our offices and warehouse, two cops came by from the Licensing Division, took my gun away and told me I could have it back if I applied for a license to own and keep a handgun in my city home.

This process brought me into contact with the city’s infamous Sullivan Law, passed in 1911, which is going to be challenged in the Supreme Court next year. The law only requires a background check in order to keep a gun anywhere within the city, I can even take the gun outside of my apartment if I am going to a shooting range to keep up my shooting skills.

On the other hand, if I want to walk around with a concealed weapon, I have to apply for a different license and I must convince a hearing officer in the Licensing Division that I need to carry a gun because I have either personal safety issues or business reasons which cannot be handled by the normal, everyday policing of the NYPD.

This process, known as discretionary, or ‘may issue’ licensing, was the rule until the mid-1990’s, when a majority of states passed laws allowing for concealed-carry of a weapon (CCW) without any special reason at all. There are now only 8 states which still require someone who wants to protect themselves with a gun outside of their home to justify this desire based on some special need.

The states which still give the cops discretion as to who can and who cannot carry a gun outside the home are CA, HI, MD, DE, NJ, NY, MA, and RI. It is assumed that if the SCOTUS overturns the Sullivan Law, the discretionary, ‘may issue’ laws will quickly disappear in the other states as well.

I happen to live in one of the remaining ‘may issue’ states – Massachusetts. But in fact, police chiefs in just about every jurisdiction in Massachusetts, with the exception of the three large cities – Boston, Springfield, Worcester – routinely grant CCW without any kind of interview or intervention at all.

Before 2002, when Massachusetts moved all state licensing to a central location which was also the office which actually produced the physical license and mailed it to the local chief, many of the small-town cops didn’t even bother to send the application into the state for the background check. As one chief in a town of some 600 residents explained to me, “I know everybody in the town.”

Want to read a really good article which sums up what guns mean to cops in small towns?  You can download it right here. Basically, the article finds that rural cops have a very different view about guns than cops in big cities, because there are endless shootings in urban centers, whereas in the small towns the only thing that gets shot is a deer or a bird.

If the SCOTUS strikes down the Sullivan Law, I can guarantee you that the New York City cops will find some other way to keep law-abiding city residents from getting their hands on guns. Last year, Connecticut’s Governor, Ned Lamont, shut down the state’s fingerprint-processing office because of the Pandemic, which effectively kept anyone applying for a gun license to be approved. He was taken to court by a pro-gun group and was ordered to re-open the office which he did, briefly, and now he’s shut it down again.

Want to walk around town with a gun in your pocket to keep yourself safe and sound? Don’t live in a high-crime place like New York City. Live in some small town like where I live where your CCW application will be immediately approved.

Of course, there hasn’t been a violent crime of any kind committed in my town since a neighbor’s kid ran his dirt bike over my front yard and left some tread marks on the lawn.

[Thanks Gail.]