About the Plantiff Ivan Antonyuk
Plaintiff Ivan Antonyuk is an adult male citizen of the State of New York, residing in Schenectady County within this district, a citizen of the United States, and a member of Gun Owners of America, Inc. He is a law-abiding person, and has no disqualification under state or federal law which would prohibit him from possessing a firearm.
Plaintiff Antonyuk is originally from Ukraine. In early 1990’s, Ukraine, crime was rampant. The country was run by mafia and criminals, while ordinary citizens were not allowed to own firearms to protect themselves. Indeed, only the government and its chosen protectors had access to arms. This left the Ukrainian people with no means to defend themselves from crime, whether committed by petty criminals or the government itself. The police were often hours away when called, if they came at all, and the Ukrainian people had no right to free speech and no right to protest. During his childhood, Plaintiff Antonyuk witnessed attacks on the citizens of Ukraine by the government for the simple act of protesting. Indeed, he was a victim of government violence during a protest in which he was not involved, but nevertheless was beaten by the police for simply being in the general vicinity of the protest. In 1994, Mr. Antonyuk fled Ukraine in favor of the United States and its promise of freedom, moving to New York, where he became a citizen of the United States in 1999. He has lived in New York ever since. In coming to the United States, and New York in particular, Mr. Antonyuk was not seeking to exchange one totalitarian regime for another.
Prior to the implementation of the CCIA, Mr. Antonyuk carried his firearm in public, where permitted and where lawful. But now, under the CCIA, almost all places where he previously carried are now off limits. He is unable to go into a restaurant or gas station that is not specifically posted with a sign allowing firearms.
Mr. Antonyuk states that the “CCIA’s implementation has greatly affected [his] daily life” and that he has taken “significant steps ... to comply with its provisions.” He has changed where he eats and gets his takeout meals and he no longer shops at stores that do not post signs welcoming firearms.
As previously alleged in the first Antonyuk case, Mr. Antonyuk is now forced to disarm himself and separate the magazine and ammunition from his firearm and store them in a “safe storage box, but not in [his] glovebox.” Mr. Antonyuk states, again, that in unloading his firearm, he has “to do this in [his] vehicle as it does not make sense to exit the vehicle with a holstered, concealed firearm, draw the firearm, unload and make safe, and then store the firearm in” his trunk or a locked safe. And, of course, when he returns to his vehicle, he has to do the same but in reverse, removing the firearm from the locked container, loading it, and then reholstering it. Mr. Antonyuk states that this is “wholly unnecessary and dangerous, and completely changed the process of carrying a firearm in New York” prior to September 1, 2022.
Mr. Antonyuk repeats the Court’s finding that he is a “law-abiding and respectful” person. Precisely because he is so law-abiding, he has “refrained from violating any of the provisions of the Act and will not violate them.”
Mr. Antonyuk then states that he is harmed because he can no longer enjoy the Second Amendment freedoms he once had before the CCIA was implemented and can no longer carry in a number of places he used to carry in. Notably, he is “unable to go peaceably about [his] daily life without fear of carrying in the wrong location and being prosecuted for doing so.”
Mr. Antonyuk “would carry in those places again” IF “the Court enjoined this law, and made it lawful for [him] to carry without fear of arrest, prosecution, damaging [his] reputation losing [his] Second Amendment rights for life, or losing the required ‘good moral character.
Mr. Antonyuk is also a property owner and, as a property owner, he enjoys the right to determine who and under what circumstances, people visit his property. The CCIA infringes on this right, as it declares his home a restricted location. The CCIA requires that he post “clear and conspicuous signage indicating that the carrying of firearms ... is permitted” or otherwise provide his “express consent” to someone wanting to carry a firearm in his home or on his property.
Mr. Antonyuk states that it is impossible to provide express consent to each and every visitor that stops by unless he is present on his front lawn 24 hours a day, as a delivery driver, or some other visitor may come to his home while he is unavailable.
Mr. Antonyuk has no problem with people lawfully and peaceably carrying in his home or on his property without his “express consent” because many people may not know he supports gun rights and they will be hesitant to talk about gun rights, a “taboo topic in New York State;” however, failing to post “express consent” means that “such persons would leave their gun at home, contrary to my wishes.”
Mr. Antonyuk states that the CCIA could even prevent one of his neighbors from coming to his aid at his home unless he previously gave them “express consent” to carry a firearm on his property and that perhaps, that person “would be forced to mill around in the dark, searching for ‘conspicuous signage’ authorizing him to help.”
Mr. Antonyuk is left with, then, the option of posting “conspicuous signage.” But he “cannot safely comply with” that requirement because many “New Yorkers are vehemently anti-gun” and posting a “sign in favor of gun rights” can open him and his family to “criticism, harassment and even possible hostile action (such as vandalism or a physical confrontation) by those who disagree” with his political views.
Mr. Antonyuk will not post a sign that labels his home as being the “likely location of a gun owner” which would raise “the risk that [his] home would be targeted by burglars, thieves, home invaders, or other violent criminals[.]”
Mr. Antonyuk believes the CCIA “politicizes [his] home against [his] wishes, and demands that [he] take affirmative steps and engage in compelled speech ... merely to fulfill [his] wishes that others be able to peaceably exercise their constitutional rights while on [his] property.”
Mr. Antonyuk further states that the CCIA has “taken” his rights as a property owner “to decide the terms on which to invite or exclude visitors” to his property and his home, and that it requires him to “publicly take a position one way or the other on an issue that is highly contentious and divisive in this state, whereas before [he] could simply stay silent.”
It is axiomatic that the government may not condition the exercise of one right on the forfeiture of another.