It has been established multiple times that police has no duty to protect, except for the situations where the police actions put a person in a harm's way. There were several cases affirming that. A cop arrested a husband driver and left his wife stranded and she was raped; another cop alerted a violent man that the neighbors complained about him and he slaughtered them when the cop left; another cop took a motorist's keys away in the middle of a snowstorm and the motorist froze to death; in all those cases the court decided that the cops were liable despite the general lack of duty to protect.

Now, suppose a city enacts an ordinance precluding weapon carry. A licensed gun owner is thus prevented from carrying a gun for protection. She gets assaulted because she wasn't able to protect herself without a weapon. Does the gun control ordinance make the city liable for failing to protect her because said ordinance put her in a harm's way?

  • A city can't enact that rule in the first place.
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 10:04
  • @Trish The city of new york does not recognize carry permits issued by the state of new york if they were not issued in the city. The process to get a city permit gives discretion to city employees who nearly always deny the application. So it seems they effectively have done so.
    – Matt
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 21:44
  • @Matt Outdated: nytimes.com/2019/05/27/us/politics/…
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 21:54
  • @Trish That case was about premises licenses. Im talking about concealed carry licenses. The changes to the premises licenses to moot the scotus case still only apply to city granted licenses and only allow transport, not concealed carry. My point about carry permits stands.
    – Matt
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 22:13
  • Still, a law that says "No guns for anybody" as suggested by OP would be unconstitutional. even if nobody can get a license (which is still in the air if that's allowed), currently there seems to be a need for at least the possibility of some sort of carry
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 22:15

1 Answer 1



For the same reason that requiring a licence to drive might, in some circumstances, result in harm to a person who cannot drive because they don’t have a licence.

The city (or any government) has legislative immunity for the laws they put in place even if those laws have negative consequences to some people. All laws have negative consequences to some people, for example, laws against theft are extremely prejudicial to thieves.

Similarly, the executive is immune for exercising their discretion in the enforcement of the law. This is the basis of the police not having a general duty to protect. However, police have a specific duty to protect when they have taken an individual into their care and control.

  • This immunity analysis is wildly inaccurate.
    – bdb484
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 1:42
  • "However, police have a specific duty to protect when they have taken an individual into their care and control." - well, doesn't the City Hall have taken the city residents into their care and control? Wouldn't that, by the same logic, imply specific duty to protect each resident?
    – Michael
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 16:20
  • Why are you living in a city where the police arrest everyone- that’s what “care and control” means in the context of police
    – Dale M
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 19:53

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