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New York Legislature approves tougher gun restrictions to soften blow from Supreme Court ruling

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The New York state legislature passed a series of gun restrictions on Friday, banning firearms in many public places, including Times Square, and tightening licensing requirements, a week after the U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for people to use handguns in public. to carry.

In a special session, the state Senate and Assembly repealed a “hidden carrying restriction” that the court found unconstitutional, but voted to enact a new set of gun laws that they hope will soften the blow of the first major court ruling on a second amendment case in more than a decade.

The judges, in a 6-3 decision of June 23, scrapped a century-old New York provision requiring gun owners who wish to carry a gun outside their home to prove they have a unique need for self-protection.

Forced to do away with that requirement, state lawmakers compensated by imposing tougher restrictions in other areas, including designating many public places as gun-free zones and adding more permitting requirements.

The invoice has been sent to Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, who signed into law Friday night.

Under the bill, which comes into effect on Sept. 1, weapons will be banned from modes of public transportation, such as subways and buses, and from schools, shelters, government offices, polling stations, places of worship, health facilities, establishments serving alcohol, libraries, nurseries, zoos, museums, theaters and stadiums, public playgrounds and parks.

Other sensitive locations where firearms are prohibited include Times Square, a popular tourist destination in Manhattan.

There will also be a statewide “suspicion” that firearms are not welcome in private businesses unless the property owner explicitly states otherwise with a prominently displayed sign.

Under the bill, gun license applicants statewide must disclose their past and present social media accounts from the past three years.

They must also have a personal interview with a licensing officer, have had at least 16 hours of personal firearms training, and agree to store firearms safely, including in vehicles and in homes with children 18 and under.

The bill will create statewide record databases for ammunition sales and licensing, and require ammunition sellers or firearms dealers to keep a record book of every ammunition transaction. A complaints committee will also be established.

At a news conference Friday, Hochul said the new gun laws would help prevent dystopian scenarios in which clashes in crowded places, such as bars and subways, quickly escalate with concealed firearms.

“Imagine you are on a crowded subway and you accidentally bump into someone. Emotions are running high and the person you bumped into just happens to have a concealed weapon with them,” she said.

“Imagine you’re in Times Square. You’re on your way to a show with your family, and you’re surrounded by people with hidden weapons,” Hochul said. “Do you feel more or less safe because of that? I think we all know the answers to those questions.”

The only people who will be affected by the bill before us are those who follow the rules.

Sen Pamela Helming (R-Canandaigua)

But Republican lawmakers from both legislatures, representing upstate and Staten Island counties, expressed opposition to many of the measures, which they said had only about 12 hours to review. Twenty senators voted against the bill.

State Senator Daniel Stec (R-Queensbury) denounced the trial for being rushed, while State Senator Pamela Helming (R-Canandaigua) said the bill will punish law-abiding citizens and have little impact on those who illegally carry weapons.

“Criminals will not abide by the requirements set forth in this bill,” Helming said, adding that they may instead “target and terrorize” places where firearms are prohibited.

“The only people affected by the bill for us are people who follow the rules,” Helming said.

State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) said the long list of proposed sensitive sites means that even if people are licensed to carry guns, they won’t be able to carry guns “just about anywhere in New York.”

Lanza criticized the proposed measures as “more unconstitutional” than the restriction lifted by the Supreme Court. “It gives tyrants more options to say no,” he said.

Some or all of the new restrictions are likely to face legal challenges from gun rights groups boosted by the Supreme Court victory, said Adam Skaggs, chief adviser and policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. But because the provisions appear to be on firm constitutional ground, Skaggs said they were likely to fail.

State Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) said lawmakers “searched very carefully across the country to make sure we were complying with what this opinion said.”

To be eligible For a firearms license prior to the Supreme Court ruling, New York residents, 21 years of age or older, were required to have a “legally recognized reason for wanting to possess or carry a firearm,” be of “good character” and not previous convictions for misdemeanors or serious crimes.

Only the requirement to prove a unique reason to carry a firearm was declared unconstitutional because it gave the state and its licensing officials too much discretion.

Applications were typically approved for people whose job it is to carry large amounts of cash or people who have a restraining order against someone who has a firearm, gun safety experts said.

In a unanimous opinion, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, Judge Brett Kavanaugh said states may continue to require permits to carry handguns for self-defense as long as they adhere to less restrictive requirements used by 43 other states.

Those requirements may include fingerprinting, a background check, a mental health check, and training in firearms handling and laws governing the use of force, Kavanaugh said.

According to the majority opinion, Judge Clarence Thomas said the judges “do not have an opportunity to define sensitive places extensively”. But he said there is “no historical basis” for New York to declare all of Manhattan as one, simply because it is busy and controlled.

The ruling comes amid heightened public safety concerns in New York, where a gunman injured 10 people on a subway train in April and another gunman killed 10 people in a Buffalo supermarket in May.

More than 3,000 guns have been recovered in the city so far this year, while the number of gun arrests is at a 28-year high, New York City Council president Adrienne Adams said at a news conference last week. Shooting incidents there doubled from 2019 to 2021, she added.

Bullet holes are seen in the window of Tops Friendly Market on Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street as federal investigators work on the site of a mass shooting on May 16, 2022 in Buffalo, NY
An FBI investigator looks for bullet holes in the window of Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, NY on May 16.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

“We can’t afford to let violent weapons continue to proliferate,” Adams said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone responded to the court’s decision by announcing plans to strengthen “red flag” laws designed to prevent people who show signs of threatening themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms. .

Bellone said Suffolk County is leading the state in red flag warnings. County police, he said, have seized about 160 guns since 2019, when New York enable school administrators, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and family members to seek court intervention if they believe they know someone who is at high risk of harming themselves or others.

Under the law, a judge could “very quickly” issue an Extreme Risk Protection Order, which could order a person to surrender firearms and not attempt to own or buy one.

But such laws could now be re-examined. Though touted as a life-saving measure, red flag laws are also a “modern invention” that has no historical precedent in the eyes of the nation’s highest court, said Adam Winkler, a professor at the UCLA School of Law who specializes in the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives. Change.

“The court says only those gun regulations that are consistent with historic gun regulations are constitutionally allowed,” Winkler said. “So that means any gun law today that doesn’t look very much like a gun law in the 1800s is unconstitutional.”

Outside of New York, the court’s decision questions the validity of similar hidden-carry restrictions in a handful of other states, including California, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

The Supreme Court ruling technically only applies directly to New York, but the rationale applies to all states. That means that while concealed-carrying applicants in states like California and Maryland still need to prove the proper reason for carrying a gun in public today, those days are limited.

“One in four Americans will feel the impact of this case,” Skaggs said.

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