Nassau District Attorney Bans Prosecutors From Owning Handguns Without Her Approval [Updated]

DocumentThere is an interesting controversy out of New York county where Acting District Attorney, Madeline Singas in Nassau County has prohibited prosecutors from owning a handgun. This is a curious way for an “acting” district attorney to start if she wants to be an actual district attorney since I believe that rule is unconstitutional. Prosecutors like other citizens have a second amendment right to own a gun. [Update: Singas has withdrawn her clearly unconstitutional condition on prosecutors]

We have previously seen New York prosecutors get into trouble with handguns, but that is no more reason to ban gun ownership than it is to deny other protected rights like free speech due to improper public comments.

The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office on New York’s Long Island bars even legal guns at home without a special exception from Singas. The application for the office now states:

[A]ssistant district attorneys are not permitted to apply for a handgun permit nor own or possess a handgun while employed by the Nassau County District Attorney. Any exception to this policy must be in writing and approved by the District Attorney.”

I wonder if an applicant can score extra points by pointing out that the office application states an unconstitutional condition for employment.

The Nassau County District Attorney’s Office insists that “Our practice of asking prosecutors to not possess handguns is to ensure the safety and comfort of staff, victims, and witnesses, and is consistent with other district attorney’s offices in the New York City metropolitan area.”

First of all, the application does not suggest that anyone is being “asked . . . not to possess handguns.” It says that they are not permitted. Second, it is hard to see how a ban on home guns would add comfort to “staff, victims, and witnesses.” Finally, whatever the desire of the office, it cannot make people feel more comfortable than denying a protected right to others in this context.

220px-CriminologygunglockGene Volokh deserves credit for raising this issue and has pointed out that N.Y. Labor Code § 201-d protects any “lawful, leisure-time activity, for which the employee receives no compensation and which is generally engaged in for recreational purpose” that is included in the subcategory of “hobbies” and conducted “off of the employer’s premises and without use of the equipment or other property.”

It is astonishing to me that Singas would create and retain what I view as a clearly unconstitutional condition for employment.

What do you think?

98 thoughts on “Nassau District Attorney Bans Prosecutors From Owning Handguns Without Her Approval [Updated]”

  1. Nick:

    “In the case of gun free zones, the bad people w/ guns look upon it as a big barrel w/ lotsa fish. Planes are gun free zones and one must go through metal detectors. The same for courthouses, MLB and NFL venues. New rule. If you want a gun free zone you must have metal detectors to enforce it so bad people w/ guns don’t have a barrel full of fish.”

    Now that’s a great idea. If they are going to ensure that patrons are helpless in order to enter an establishment, then they should ensure that they are safe.

    1. Karen S – as the court houses being gun free zones, that is not true. The general public goes through metal detectors, but staff goes around them.

    2. @Karen S: ” If they are going to ensure that patrons are helpless in order to enter an establishment, then they should ensure that they are safe.”

      I am struck how the conversation regarding gun control has become a call for reasonable gun owners to reign in their extremist gun owner associates. Yet most any call for any form of gun control is not viewed as extreme but rather as simply unattainable in a political sense.

      Over at Ezra Klein’s Vox we have an article by Max Fisher regarding the recent events in Oregon. In that article Fisher approvingly quotes Adam Gopnik calling for a ban on all handguns:

      “Gopnik ended his piece with a call to ban handguns — a political nonstarter in 2007 and, in 2015, something that would be unimaginable to even discuss. …”There is no reason that any private citizen in a democracy should own a handgun,” he wrote. “At some point, that simple truth will register. “”

      And the sentiments of Fisher and Gopnik are not unusual in gun control circles. It would take me a while to fish it out the old editorials. However, I distinctly remember the very main stream Washington Pose editorializing how no civilian should be allowed to own a hand gun. This despite the fact that handguns are the single most popular form of fire arm chosen or used for personal self defense.

      If anyone needs reminding, personal self defense with a fire arm is a constitutional right.

      Perhaps it is time to think carefully who really are the extremist among us.

      The fact is there are plenty of gun control fanatics, laying low, talking sweet reason, but never wavering from their goal to take guns from the hands of ordinary, law abiding citizens.

      1. bfm – I doubt much that it has changed much under Obama, but didn’t Washington, D.C/ home of the Washington Post have the highest death rate per capita by gun at one time. Now I know Chicago has been up and down in the stats and they had a bad week, but certainly DC is holding its own?

        1. I don’t know about the actual stats, but DC has had a lot of gun crime since the 1980’s, presumably fueled by the drug wars and crack epidemic of the 1990’s.

          DC also had some of the most restrictive gun laws anywhere. Since Heller, DC still has some of the most restrictive gun laws you will find in most any community anywhere.

          Not only that many local elected officials in DC are extremely anti gun. My recollection is that shortly after the Heller decision, local officials were on talk radio bragging that if they could find any legal ground they were going to do what ever they could to pass legislation and limit guns.

          Imagine if there were a SC decision favoring speech, assembly, or the press and local officials publicly stated they would try to find ways to circumvent the decision and limit those rights.

  2. I recall watching an interview from a survivor of a cafe mass shooting, which I believe happened in Texas, a high firearm ownership state. Restaurants were gun free zones, so she had left her pistol in her truck. In a high firearm ownership state, restaurants were the soft targets this shooter craved.

    The woman watched her parents get shot, as well as everyone around her. The thought screaming through her mind was if only she had her gun, mere yards away in her vehicle, she could have protected her family and stopped a mad killer.

  3. DBQ:

    “Perhaps the shooter wasn’t aware that Umpqua Community College is a gun free zone.

    Or….possibly he/she did know :|. Too bad. A person with a gun, in the early stages of this incident, might have been able to save lives.”

    True. We’ve already completed the social experiment in which we’ve proven that mass shootings inevitably happen in gun free zones. They seek soft targets.

    These tragedies always remind me of the Clock Tower shooting in Texas, where armed citizens pinned down a homicidal maniac and reduced the carnage. By all accounts, he would have killed hundreds more people with his advantage of high ground. Armed citizens kept him cowering.

    The majority of gun violence happens from gangs. So break the gangs. The majority of mass shootings happen from the mentally ill. So fix the mental health system.

  4. hsk:

    “Perhaps I need to hang out with tougher women.”

    Come hang out with country girls. We know how to take care of our own business. 🙂

  5. Nick:

    “Karen, The libertarian Vince Vaughn, a strong 2nd Amendment guy, said recently, “Nothing stops a burglar in his tracks like hearing a gun being cocked.””

    That is absolutely true from my own personal experience. You know my dad stopped a home invasion at night, when the family was home, merely by chambering a round where the would be intruder could here it. He got a very nice apology.

  6. Hahahaha the only civil liberty most people wish to demonstrate is the right to bear arms (hahaha Darren Smith and Mr. Schulte’s post; y’all are so masculine, grrrr!!! hahaha).

    i guess it’s eerily similar to the Founding Fathers in actions, but sometimes not words.

    Have any of y’all ever been arrested for political beliefs??? (Even a little courage?)

    1. chipkelly – we are trying to stay on topic, although that is difficult sometimes.

  7. 50 million abortions performed since 1973.

    Disarticulated fetuses for sale.

    Do Americans have the right to keep and bear babies?

  8. 35,000 highway deaths last year.

    The culprit, those pesky cars.

    Let’s outlaw cars.

    Do Americans have the right to keep and bear cars?

    Do Europeans or Australians have the right to keep and bear cars?

    I’ll bet the ChiComs don’t have a right to keep and bear cars.

    This has got to stop. There are cars everywhere.

    Ban cars now.

  9. There are all types of requirements for guns. Good people follow the requirements, rules and regulations. Bad people do not. In the case of gun free zones, the bad people w/ guns look upon it as a big barrel w/ lotsa fish. Planes are gun free zones and one must go through metal detectors. The same for courthouses, MLB and NFL venues. New rule. If you want a gun free zone you must have metal detectors to enforce it so bad people w/ guns don’t have a barrel full of fish.

    And yes, I hate having to go through metal detectors. I go to courthouses almost daily and it’s a pain in the ass. But, that needs to be a requirement. Because you see, there is one thing worse than no security, and that’s a false sense of security. Gun free zones are a false sense of security.

    1. Nick writes “New rule. If you want a gun free zone you must have metal detectors to enforce it so bad people w/ guns don’t have a barrel full of fish.”

      Not a bad idea.

  10. Perhaps the shooter wasn’t aware that Umpqua Community College is a gun free zone.

    Or….possibly he/she did know :|. Too bad. A person with a gun, in the early stages of this incident, might have been able to save lives.

  11. Annie – I wasn’t sure but I though you wouldn’t mind if I continued the thought process. Forgetwhoiam says its treason? What would be treasonous, is if her superiors allow this women to continue in her current position.

    “I’m just going to pass my own laws!!!! to hell with the legislative process”.

    Nick and Lisa N. – Obviously I’m poking a little fun at the girls. I did say that there are some pro-gun women but it has been my experience when talking to the majority of women that they are not interested in handling a gun much less actually protecting themselves with anything. It has been my observation that they appear to rather rely on screaming. Perhaps I need to hang out with tougher women. Maid Marian of Sherwood forest carried a stiletto. Now that’s hot. At least mace or a stun guns ladies.

    Girls gym classes should include marshal arts w/weapons training. With this curriculum they would probably be more interested in going to class and I bet college rape stats would go down. With more Maid Marians perhaps the number of eunuchs would increase. We would find out who the real dicks are in college before they get into positions of power.

    1. hskiprop – they are not allowing them to play tag or dodgeball. Do you really think they are going to arm 30 hormonal teenagers? BTW, what is marshal arts?

  12. Impeachment, conviction, prosecution, incarceration and revocation of license.

    This affirmative action poster girl should never work in a legal, judicial or elected office again.

    She has committed attempted murder of the law and conspired to usurp power as “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    She believes herself entitled and above the law; prevalent over the U.S. Constitution.

    Treason.

    __________

    2nd Amendment

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    __________

    Article 2, Section 4

    “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High crimes and Misdemeanors.”

    1. forgotwhoiam. There are not enough prison beds because they are already filled with victimless criminals who the prosecutors and Judges place in prison, so as to look tough on crime to the public, but who are reality protecting the drug cartels, their government protectors and bankers who are laundering all the money.

      When people are treated as criminals for exposing criminal activity, it is obvious that we are being ruled by the real criminals.

      Like I said, there are not enough available beds.

  13. Karen, The libertarian Vince Vaughn, a strong 2nd Amendment guy, said recently, “Nothing stops a burglar in his tracks like hearing a gun being cocked.”

  14. Maybe she could use the “Kim Davis” defense? U.S. Supreme Court rulings are optional, only follow the laws you agree with.

    1. Ross – when a particular cop disagrees with a law (say 1 oz of pot) he will not prosecute it. In fact, the first pot I smoked I got from cops who took it off suspects but did not charge them for it. Just added it to their personal pile.

  15. Let’s do a social experiment with two neighboring houses.

    In front of one house, let’s post a sign that this is a gun free zone. In front of the other one, let’s post a sign that the house is protected by Smith & Wesson.

    Which house is more likely to be robbed when the owners are home?

  16. That’s unconstitutional, and should not stand.

    Police officers concealed carry when off duty because they never know when they could run into a criminal they’d arrested. Prosecutors have similar risks, plus the constitutional right to decide for themselves if they want to own a firearm.

    Shame on this DA.

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