New York to restrict carrying guns after Supreme Court ruling
NEW YORK – Amid bright lights and electronic billboards in New York’s Times Square, city officials display new signs proclaiming the bustling intersection a ‘gun-free zone’.
The sprawling Manhattan tourist attraction is one of dozens of ‘sensitive’ places – including parks, churches and theaters – that will be banned from guns under a sweeping new state law which will come into effect on Thursday. The measure, passed after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June, expanded gun rights, also sets strict standards for issuing concealed carry permits.
New York is among half a dozen states whose key provisions of its gun laws have been struck down by the High Court because of the requirement for plaintiffs to prove they had “good cause” for a permit. Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday that she and her fellow Democrats in the state Legislature took action next week because the decision “destroyed a governor’s ability to protect his citizens from people who carry concealed weapons wherever they choose”.
The quickly passed law, however, has sparked confusion and legal challenges from gun owners who say it improperly limits their constitutional rights.
“They seem to be designed less to combat gun violence and more simply to prevent people from getting guns – even if those people are upstanding, law-abiding citizens, who the Supreme Court has ruled have the right to have them,” said Jonathan Corbett. , a Brooklyn attorney and license seeker who is one of many challenging the law in court.
By law, applicants for a concealed carry permit will be required to complete 16 hours of classroom training and two hours of live-fire drills. Ordinary citizens would be banned from bringing firearms into schools, churches, subways, theaters and amusement parks, among other places deemed “sensitive” by authorities.
Applicants will also be required to provide a list of social media accounts within the past three years as part of a ‘character and conduct’ review. The requirement was added because shooters sometimes dropped signs of violence online before opening fire on people.
Sheriffs in some upstate counties said the extra work of their investigators could add to existing backlogs in processing applications.
In Rochester, Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said it currently takes two to four hours to complete a pistol license background check on a “clean” candidate. He estimates that the new law will add one to three additional hours for each permit. The county has approximately 600 pistol permits pending.
“It’s going to slow everything down a bit more,” he said.
In the Mohawk Valley, Fulton County Sheriff Richard C. Giardino had questions about how digital sleuthing would play out.
“That says three years of your social media. We’re not going to print three years of social media posts by everyone. If you look at my Facebook, I send six or ten things a day,” said the sheriff, a former district attorney and judge.
The list of no-go spaces for carrying firearms has drawn criticism from advocates who say it is so long that it will be difficult for people with permits to move around in public. People carrying a gun could only enter a private business with a permit, such as a sign posted on the window.
Giardino has already started handing out signs to local businesses saying people can carry legal firearms on the premises. Jennifer Elson, owner of Let’s Twist Again Diner in Amsterdam, said she displayed the sheriff’s sign, along with one of her own readings in part “by our governor, we need to get this nonsense out.” If you are a law-abiding citizen who has obtained a legal transport permit, you are welcome here.
“I am convinced that everyone’s constitutional rights must be protected,” she said.
But Times Square, visited by about 50 million tourists each year, and many less crowded places carrying a gun will be illegal from Thursday.
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said Tuesday she looks forward to seeing authorities act to “protect New Yorkers and visitors who frequent Times Square.”
A lawsuit challenging the provisions of the law argued that the rules make it difficult for licensees to leave their homes without breaking the law. A federal judge is expected to rule soon on a petition challenging several provisions of the law, which was filed on behalf of a Schenectady resident who holds a transport license.
The Supreme Court ruling also led to a flurry of laws in California to tighten gun ownership rules, including a new law that could hold gun dealers and manufacturers liable for any harm caused. by anyone that they have “reasonable grounds to believe they are at substantial risk” of using a weapon illegally.
Earlier this month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a measure that would require firearms license applicants to undergo personal interviews with a licensing authority.
New Jersey required people to complete training before receiving a license and would require new residents to register firearms imported from out of state.
Hawaii, which has the lowest gun death toll in the nation, is still weighing its options. Since the Supreme Court ruling, the state has granted only one new firearms license.
Although New York does not keep statewide data on pistol license applications, there are reports of long lines at the county clerks office and other evidence of an increase. requests before the entry into force of the law.
In the Mohawk Valley, Pine Tree Rifle Club president Paul Catucci said interest in safety courses taught by club volunteers “exploded” by the end of the summer.
“I had to turn hundreds down,” he said.
Maysoon Khan is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow Mayson Khan on Twitter.
Hill and Khan contributed from Albany, New York.
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