United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
FRANK P. GERACI, JR. CHIEF JUDGE.
Plaintiff Montgomery Blair Sibley brings this action
challenging the constitutionality of New York State Penal Law
Articles 265 and 400, New York's handgun licensing laws.
Now before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for a
preliminary injunction to enjoin a hearing scheduled before
Defendant Chauncy J. Watches, a New York handgun licensing
officer, on January 10, 2020. ECF No. 23. For the reasons
stated below, Plaintiff's motion is DENIED.
following facts are taken from the Amended Complaint. ECF No.
18. In November 2017, Plaintiff moved to New York and brought
two handguns and a cane sword with him. In April 2018,
Plaintiff applied for a “carry concealed” handgun
license in Steuben County. The application triggered an
investigation including a series of background checks and an
in-person interview with a Steuben County Sheriffs Deputy.
Following the interview, the Deputy told Plaintiff that
possessing his handguns in his home without a license was
illegal under New York Penal Law § 265.01 and advised
Plaintiff to get rid of them pending the application process.
2019, Defendant Watches denied Plaintiffs application. The
denial letter stated that “the decision [was] based
upon concerns expressed in the Sheriffs investigation,
” specifically “concerns about your being
sufficiently responsible to possess and care for a
pistol” and concerns “that your history
demonstrates that you place your own interest above the
interests of society.” ECF No. 18 at 20. The letter
advised Plaintiff that he had the right to request a hearing
at which he could testify and present witnesses. Id.
2019, Plaintiff requested hearing. He also requested copies
of all reports and communications Defendant Watches received
in the course of the investigation and copies of any legal or
educational authorities he used to guide his decision to deny
Plaintiffs application. Id. at 21. Defendant Watches
set a hearing for July 31, 2019 but denied Plaintiffs
document requests as lacking a legal basis. Id. at
to an October 2019 letter from Defendant Watches to
Plaintiff, the hearing was re-set for January 10, 2020.
Id. at 23. The letter also notified Plaintiff of
several issues that would be addressed at the hearing.
Id. In November 2019, Plaintiff responded that
Defendant Watches's letter provided insufficient notice
to allow Plaintiff to prepare for the hearing and again
requested documents. Id. at 24.
meantime, in July 2019, Plaintiff brought this action in this
Court challenging the constitutionality of NY Penal Law
Articles 265 and 400. His five claims can be summarized as
first and second claims, Plaintiff challenges NY Penal Law
§ 265.01, which criminalizes the possession of handguns,
including in the home. Although Plaintiff applied for a
“carry concealed” license and not a license for
household possession, Plaintiff claims that possessing a
handgun in the home is a fundamental right and that any law
requiring a license to do so is unconstitutional. In other
words, he asserts that he should not have to obtain a license
at all to possess handguns in his home, and thus, the Steuben
County Sheriff s Deputy's directive to get rid of his
handguns violated his Second Amendment rights
third and fourth claims, Plaintiff challenges NY Penal Law
§ 400.00, the statutory mechanism for the licensing of
firearms in New York.
third claim alleges that § 400.00(1) is unconstitutional
on its face and as applied because it allows arbitrary and
discriminatory denial of licenses and was discriminatorily
applied against him based on his viewpoints. He thus alleges
that § 400.00(1) violates his First and Fourteenth
Amendment free speech, due process, and equal protection
fourth claim challenges the step-by-step process of Article
400. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Watches obtained ex
parte evidence from Plaintiffs employer and refused to
disclose it to him; that he denied Plaintiffs application
before allowing him to be heard; that he failed to articulate
the basis for the denial; and that he denied the application
after the six-month time limit for processing the
application. ECF No. 18 at 12. Plaintiff also alleges that
Article 400 improperly contemplates an evidentiary hearing at
which no statutory procedure is established; the NY
Administrative Procedure Act is ignored; applicants are not
permitted to subpoena witnesses or documents; and the
licensing officer improperly functions as both a witness and
presider. ECF No. 18 at 13. Thus, Plaintiff argues that
Article 400 violates his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment
constitutional rights, his state constitutional rights, and
New York's administrative law.
in his fifth claim, Plaintiff seeks a judicial declaration
that an Article 78 proceeding would be
“meaningless” and would violate his ...