Restrictions on carrying guns in public in New York go into effect
Amid the bright lights and electronic billboards of New York’s Times Square, city authorities are posting signs proclaiming the bustling crossroads a “Gun Free Zone.”
The sprawling Manhattan tourist area is one of scores of “sensitive” places — including parks, churches and theaters — that will be off-limits for guns under a sweeping new New York state law going into effect Thursday. The measure, passed after a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June expanded gun rights, also sets stringent standards for issuing concealed-carry permits.
New York is among a half-dozen states that had key provisions of its gun laws invalidated by the high court because of a requirement for applicants to prove that they had “proper cause” for a permit. Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday that she and her fellow Democrats in the state Legislature took action the following week because the ruling “destroyed the ability for a governor to be able to protect her citizens from people who carry concealed weapons anywhere they choose.”
However, the law has led to confusion and court challenges from gun owners who say it improperly limits their constitutional rights.
“They seem to be designed less towards addressing gun violence and more towards simply preventing people from getting guns — even if those people are law-abiding, upstanding citizens, who according to the Supreme Court have the rights to have them,” said Jonathan Corbett, a Brooklyn attorney and permit applicant who is one of several people challenging the law in court.
A federal judge Wednesday evening let the new rules go into effect Thursday as planned. Despite writing that the arguments for a preliminary injunction to stop the rules were persuasive, Judge Glenn Suddaby said the plaintiffs — an upstate New York resident and three gun rights organizations — didn’t have standing to bring the legal action.
The bill, unveiled in response to a Supreme Court ruling, was a backup plan to let California keep restricting who can get a gun license. It failed.
Suddaby said he came to his decision partly because the upstate plaintiff, a legal gun owner, couldn’t demonstrate he was at risk of a credible threat of prosecution under the new guidelines, among other factors.
In a tweet, New York Atty. Gen. Letitia James called Suddaby’s ruling a major victory “against baseless attacks by the gun lobby.” In an emailed statement, Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, one of the groups that filed the challenge, said his group would continue to fight “against clear violations of the 2nd Amendment.”
Under the law, applicants for a concealed-carry permit will have to complete 16 hours of classroom training and two hours of live-fire exercises. Ordinary citizens are prohibited from bringing guns to schools, churches, subways, theaters, amusement parks and other places deemed “sensitive” by authorities.
Applicants also will have to provide a list of social media accounts for the last three years as part of a “character and conduct” review. The requirement was added because shooters have sometimes dropped hints of violence online before they opened fire on people.
Newsom signs several new gun restrictions into law, just weeks after the Supreme Court bolstered the rights of firearms owners.
Sheriffs in some upstate counties said the additional work for 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 perform a pistol permit background check on a “clean” candidate. He estimates the new law will add one to three hours for each permit. The county has about 600 pending pistol permits.
“It’s going to slow everything down just a bit more,” he said.
In the Mohawk Valley, Fulton County Sheriff Richard C. Giardino had questions on how the digital sleuthing would proceed.
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says he’s issuing more gun permits since the Supreme Court ruled applicants don’t have to explain why they want one.
“It says three years’ worth of your social media. We’re not going to print out three years of social media posts by everybody. If you look at my Facebook, I send out six or 10 things a day,” said the sheriff, a former district attorney and judge.
The list of prohibited spaces for carrying guns has drawn criticism from gun advocates who say it’s so extensive that it makes it difficult for people with permits. People carrying a gun could go into private business only with permission, such as a sign posted on the window.
Giardino has already started giving out signs to local businesses saying people can carry legal firearms on the premises. Jennifer Elson, who owns the Let’s Twist Again Diner in Amsterdam, said she put up the sheriff’s sign, along with one of her own reading, in part, that “per our governor, we have to post this nonsense. If you are a law abiding citizen who obtained a legal permit to carry, you are welcome here.”
But in Times Square — visited by about 50 million tourists annually — and many less-crowded places, carrying a gun is now illegal.
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said Tuesday she looked forward to seeing authorities move to “protect New Yorkers and visitors who frequent Times Square.”
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