ALBANY, N.Y. — In response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined sections of New York's concealed carry statute were unconstitutional, Democrats in the New York State Legislature on Friday passed a slew of new restrictions affecting legal gun owners.
Democrats hold a supermajority in the legislature.
The bill was considered at an extraordinary session of the legislature called by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The language in the bill more clearly defines the parameters under which you can get a concealed carry permit, and makes it a longer and more difficult process to acquire one.
In addition, legal gun owners seeking concealed carry permits face not only increased scrutiny, but they also increased limitations as to where they may carry, and they must demonstrate knowledge and proficiency of their weapons, not unlike those seeking a driver's license, who must pass both a written exam and a road test.
Republican members of the State Legislature say the new measures will make New York a more dangerous place by punishing law abiding citizens while taking no measures against criminals who will pay no regard to the laws enacted.
The Supreme Court struck down New York's requirement that legal gun owners demonstrate proper cause, or a "need," to conceal carry outside their homes, primarily because New York didn't define proper cause, making the determination arbitrary.
In addition, the Supreme Court found the New York law violated an ordinary citizen's right to arm themselves in public for self-defense.
New rules proposed to obtain a permit
Legal gun owners in New York, who already had to renew their concealed carry permits every five years, would now have to do it every three.
In addition, they would have to complete 16 hours of classroom training, two hours on a live range, and pass a written test with a score of at least 80 percent.
Following that, they would have to meet with a "licensing officer" for an interview, during which time they would have to provide the names, ages, and contact information for members of their household, and provide no less than four references, in the form of people willing to attest that the applicant is of "good moral character."
Applicants would also have to disclose their current and past social media accounts so the licensing officer could review them to see if anything the applicant may have posted would, in the mind of the licensing officer, be objectionable and disqualify the applicant.
Extensive list of places you could not carry
If an applicant clears all of the hurdles involved in obtain a concealed carry permit, they would have to be aware of an extensive list of places where it would still be be illegal for them to be armed.
Gov. Hochul referred to these as "sensitive places," many of which have traditionally banned firearms or where they are already illegal under federal law.
They include government buildings, schools, colleges and universities, and medical facilities.
As well, it would be illegal to carry in churches, libraries, and entertainment venues such as libraries, theaters, arenas, and stadiums.
Legal gun owners with concealed carry permits would also be prohibited from carrying in a park, on a playground, at a polling place, at a parade or a protest, or while using public transit.
Times Square in New York City is also designated in the bill as a "sensitive place" and therefore someplace where concealed carry would not be allowed, and there is language in the bill indicating that local governments may establish additional places where lawful gun owners may not carry their legally registered firearms.
They also could not carry while in a bar, or even in a restaurant that serves alcohol.
In fact, under the new laws they couldn't enter any private business or property with a legally registered gun, unless that business or property owner posted a sign which says they can. And even if they mistakenly carry someplace they shouldn't, they could be charged with a felony where, if convicted, they would lose their constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
New rules at point of purchase
The new laws also add another layer of bureaucracy when someone goes to purchase a gun legally.
Lawful gun owners have long been subject to a background check at point purchase through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
But under the new law, instead of the gun dealer doing the check, they would have to turn the task over to the New York State Police and wait for them to complete it before the gun dealer would be allowed to complete the sale.
As of now, there is no established time frame for the State Police to complete this task, and no indication that they have a system in place with sufficient resources to take it on, as the bill directs the Superintendent of the State Police to "create a plan to coordinate the background checks."
The same background checks would also have to be completed whenever a customer seeks to buy ammunition.
In addition, the State Police will also charge the dealer a fee to do what the dealer previously did, which would likely be passed on to the customer.
New situations that could result in denial
While it's long been established in the state's law that a felony record bars an individual from legally purchasing or processing a firearm, the new law would add several misdemeanors to the category of infractions that would disqualify an individual from owning a gun.
These include misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor driving while intoxicated, and misdemeanor menacing, an example of which would be if someone had ever approached someone in a manner in which the other person felt "threatened."
Weapons in your own home
The bill establishes that firearms within a home where someone less than 18 years old resides must, when the weapons not in direct control of their owners, be locked in a secure receptacle or be affixed with a trigger lock with the ammunition removed.
In addition, someone who travels with a gun must, upon leaving their vehicle, ensure that the ammunition is removed and the weapon is locked in a appropriate storage depository and out of sight from outside the vehicle.
Law enforcement officers, peace officers, licensed security guards, and active members of the military would be exempt from elements of the new concealed carry laws. Retired police officers would also be exempt as would anyone while legally engaged in hunting.
Body armor illegal
If a civilian in New York wanted to protect themselves from being shot by wearing a bulletproof vest or body armor, the new law would prohibit them from doing so.
A 'terrible law' concocted in secret that 'endangers New Yorkers'
Republican lawmakers are already raising concerns, not only about the fairness and practicality of the new laws, but also the constitutionality of them, contending many of the new measures have already been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
They also insist the measures, agreed upon behind closed doors by the governor's staff and majority leaders in the legislature, seek to punish law abiding gun owners who are rarely responsible for crime, while containing no provisions for enhanced penalties against criminals who commit gun crimes and don't follow the laws in the first place.
In a statement, NYS Senator George Borrello, a Republican representing the 57th District in the state's Southern Tier, said:
Only days after the Supreme Court struck down New York’s blatantly unconstitutional concealed carry restrictions, the governor called a one-day ‘extraordinary session’ to supposedly pass a bill to ‘protect’ New Yorkers from the ramifications of the Court’s decision.
True to Albany’s legendary dysfunction, the Legislature returned to Albany at great taxpayer expense only to find there was no bill to vote on and nothing to do but spend endless hours waiting as the governor and legislative leaders huddled behind closed doors hammering out bills that should have been ready and waiting for discussion and debate when the Legislature convened on Thursday.
Predictably, this rushed, secretive process produced a terrible gun control bill that will do nothing to make New Yorkers safer and only provide criminals with a sure-fire guarantee that they can go on a rampage in hospitals, schools and other so-called ‘sensitive places’ without fear that a law-abiding, licensed gun owner will intervene to stop the carnage. The idea that a law designating supermarkets or schools as ‘gun-free zones’ would have deterred the Buffalo or Uvalde shooters is patently absurd.
Especially egregious is the provision that will require business owners to explicitly state whether concealed weapons are permitted on the premises, instantly alienating potential customers who are on the other side of the issue. New York has already created so many obstacles for small businesses in this state, and now they have created a brand new one.
Other provisions concerning background checks for ammunition purchases, new rules for storing guns in homes and vehicles, and additional training requirements will further burden law-abiding gun owners. Meanwhile, criminals and repeat offenders will remain free to terrorize neighborhoods and roam the streets courtesy of One Party Rule’s disastrous bail and parole ‘reforms.’ There will be no measurable improvements in public safety until these pro-criminal measures are repealed.
This session was an incompetent display of election-year political theater at its worst. It was notable only for its lack of common-sense legislation and the failure of One Party Rule to take any steps to make New York safer, more affordable or prosperous.