NY Democrats Cross New Gun Regulation in React to Supreme Court docket ruling

ALBANY, NY – A week after the Supreme Court enacted a law restricting the proliferation of concealed handguns in New York, the state’s Democratic leaders on Thursday are expected to quickly react with New measures ban people from carrying guns in many public places that are said to be “sensitive places.”

The ban will apply to places like colleges, hospitals, subways, parks and stadiums. It would also extend to any private property, such as a bar, restaurant or private home, unless the property owner explicitly permits the gun, which they can do by placing a signs on their premises.

The proposed law is considered a strong objection to Last week’s Supreme Court decisionand could be an early test of how far a state can go to curb the proliferation of handguns without violating a Supreme Court ruling.

By a vote of 6 to 3, the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to carry weapons outside of their homes, declaring that a century-old New York law is unconstitutional because of the way it works. restrict who can obtain permits to carry.

Fearing that this decision would lead to dangerous gun proliferation amid rising gun violence, Governor Kathy Hochul ordered the Democratic-led Legislature to convene an emergency meeting in Washington. Albany on Thursday to tighten state gun laws.

Lawmakers are considering adding new requirements for New Yorkers to receive a concealed carry permit, including 16 hours of training on how to handle a handgun, two hours of school training shooting, face-to-face interviews and written exams, according to internal legislative memos obtained by The New York Times.

Although Ms Hochul said she has reached an agreement with her Democratic colleagues in the Legislature on the general outlines of the bill, lawmakers are still finalizing the details and key language. Thursday afternoon, with a vote expected later in the day.

Legislative leaders and the governor appear to have reached an agreement on a list of places where guns are prohibited: health care facilities, including nursing homes and domestic violence shelters; Cathedral; colleges and universities; places where children congregate, such as daycare centers, playgrounds, parks and zoos; public transport; places where alcohol or marijuana is consumed; and theatres, arenas, concerts, casinos and other entertainment venues.

Under the plan under consideration, carrying a weapon in a prohibited area would become a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

“I want to make sure that we’ve done everything we can to protect the citizens of this state,” Hochul said at a news conference Wednesday, a day after winning the state’s primary election. Democrats for governor.

Hochul said the expanded list of gun-free places was created to reassure New Yorkers “that when they go there to gather, work, places of worship, polling places and large gathering spaces more, they don’t need to worry. about someone right next to them having a weapon. “

The bill is expected to pass the state Senate and Congress, where Democrats hold the supermajority, amid fierce opposition from Republicans, some of them critical of the process. Democrats push for the law to be hasty and covert.

Representative Lee Zeldin of Long Island, the Republican candidate for governor who has made public safety a cornerstone of his campaign, immediately spoke out against the creation of no-go zones. guns, saying it would make the state “less safe”.

“If you are going to identify a location and you are going to tell a criminal that at that location there will be no law-abiding New Yorkers who will be safe and certainly carry a gun for defense, you are placing Mr. The safety of others at that location is at risk, Zeldin said at a news conference in Buffalo on Thursday.

The Supreme Court’s ruling, written by Judge Clarence Thomas, affirmed Americans’ right to carry guns in public, and rejected the process used by six states, including New York, California and Massachusetts. , to approve concealed carry permits.

Under old New York regulations, applicants for a concealed firearm license needed to demonstrate that they had “good cause” for the license, in addition to meeting several other criteria: be at least 21 years old, have no felony or serious convictions, and be of “good moral character.”

If an applicant fits that criteria, officials may issue a license if they determine that the applicant has a greater need for self-protection. The court took issue with the state’s discretionary use in these cases.

Specifically, the Supreme Court ruling said officials can designate certain “sensitive locations” as off-limits to people carrying concealed weapons, until those places are of a similar nature. Similar to other areas where guns have been banned for a long time, such as schools, government. buildings or polling places.

On Thursday, lawmakers were still weighing whether to ban weapons at rallies or places where people gather to express their right to free speech.

“What stands out is simply a matter of reducing concepts to actual legislative language,” said Congressman Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Long Island. “There are a lot of distinct positions that need to be defined and it’s just a matter of putting the language together at this point.”

The legislation would also expand the state’s so-called safe storage law, passed in 2019, that requires that firearms be safely stored in a home if someone under the age of 16 resides there. The legislation under consideration would raise the age to 18. And it would ban gun owners from leaving a gun in a car unless it’s stored in a locked box, according to the memo.

Democrats stressed that they are working to ensure the legislation can sustain a possible court challenge from gun rights groups, by consulting for weeks. , even before the court’s decision is issued, with academics, legal experts and gun safety groups.

Although the ruling specifically says officials cannot designate a crowded area as large as Manhattan off-limits, the governor acknowledged Wednesday that the law would still prevent guns from most public places. add.

When asked by reporters which areas would be left to legal gun permit holders, Ms. Hochul said: “Probably some streets.”

“We know we have to make sure this is constitutional. We don’t want to go back to court,” Hochul said, adding, “I’ll go right to the line, not cross the line. “

Although there is broad consensus between both houses on the intent of the legislation, several proposals have been made after attracting the interest of lawmakers.

Among them is a proposal that would disqualify license applicants for alcohol abuse and require recovering alcoholics to submit an affidavit from a licensed counselor stating that they have not drunk alcohol in at least three years. Similarly, legislators have debated whether to legally ban people from carrying guns outside their homes if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Lawmakers are also considering whether to require people carrying concealed weapons to disclose the existence and location of their weapons at traffic stops, if required by police.

And there seems to be some disagreement over whether applicants should be required to share their medical records, including mental health records, with the state as a condition of licensure. .

Nicholas Fandos and Jonah E. Bromwich contribution report.

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