BUFFALO, N.Y. — Another major chapter in the nation's ongoing gun debate emerged Thursday with the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 decision that determined that New York State's concealed carry permit for gun owners was unconstitutional.
The impact is still reverberating around the state with interpretation and strong responses as 2 On Your Side found out.
Gov. Kathy Hochul summed it up this way in her view: "This decision isn't just reckless ... it's reprehensible."
Hochul was in full fury in Albany during a bill signing for a school security system as word of the ruling came out.
"It's not what New Yorkers want," she said. "And we should have the right of determination of what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state. If the federal government will not have sweeping laws to protect us, then our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can and have laws to protect our citizens."
While holding up a copy of the 135-page SCOTUS decision, Hochul said state lawmakers will be called into session in July to seek new legislative language to restore the concealed carry provision in some way.
State and New York City officials are zeroing in on specifying “sensitive locations” where concealed weapons could be forbidden, including a concept that would essentially extend those zones to the entire metropolis. Other options under consideration include adding new conditions to get a handgun permit, such as requiring weapons training.
But there was a note of uncertainty with her legal advisers as she was asked about the overall impact on New York's gun regulations which are regarded as some of the strongest in the country. Some on the other side of the political spectrum see them as overly restrictive.
Hochul was seen at the podium conferring with one of her top legal advisors and then responded to that question this way: "We'll find out. You have to let us read the 135 pages and digest it."
Then for the Erie County Clerk's Office, which says that the basic pistol permit application process with background and criminal checks will go on for now, that second stage application affidavit for the upgrade to an actual concealed carry gun permit outside the home must be re-evaluated with this ruling.
County Clerk Mickey Kearns points out that a local presiding judge is in charge and may have to clarify the actual effect.
"We're going to need guidance from the judge and of course working with the New York State Clerks Association. But we don't know the answer to that question. And as I said, Judge M. William Boller is an excellent, excellent judge. He's been doing this for quite some time," Kearns said.
Finally, we can go back to the legislature, which will be going back to Albany sometimes next month, There was some expectation of this court ruling with so-called contingency plans for a revised state measure.
New York State Senator Sean Ryan says he will have the public in mind when lawmakers convene.
"My constituents are happy with how we do licensing of handguns in Erie County. The only complaints I hear sometimes is how long it takes. Very few people come to me and say I wanna be able to bring my gun to a Bisons game. I want to bring my gun to the bus station or to movie theaters," Ryan said.
So far there has been no response to 2 On Your Side's request for a statement from or interview with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which was behind this case with two of its members.
However Tom King, who is president of that organization. did speak with WNYT, the NBC affiliate in Albany. He told their reporter he regarded this as an "All American Day" with a legal victory in this lawsuit which was filed five years ago before the recent round of mass shootings.
King also said "How can guaranteeing a constitutional right be a step backwards. What is a step backwards is the fact that the legislature is lying to the people of New York state by saying that any law that they pass is going to keep the guns out of the hands of the criminals. It's not gonna happen."
King also reacted to Governor Hochul's comments about this high court decision being "reckless" and "reprehensible". He said "It shows what the liberal Democratic view is of the Constitution and the institution of the Supreme Court and the legislative process. I find it reprehensible that an elected official who is sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States is going to try to circumvent a decision of the US Supreme Court "