New York leaders promise new gun restrictions after Supreme Court ruling

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NEW YORK. For decades, New York City officials have boasted that stringent restrictions on gun ownership have made it one of the safest places in America. This claim is supported by statistics showing that the state and its largest city consistently have one of the lowest firearm death rates in the nation.

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Now, after the Supreme Court’s decision strikes down key parts of the state’s gun licensing law, lawmakers will try to maintain as many restrictions as possible on who can carry a gun and where they can carry it.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, vowed on Thursday to convene the Democratic-led Legislature for a special session to pass new rules, including legislation defining “sensitive places” where people can’t carry concealed weapons, such as school zones, bars or hospitals. .

Other options may include adding new conditions for obtaining a firearms permit, such as requiring gun training.

“Our new laws will be about restrictions on sensitive sites, changing the permitting process,” Hochul said after the court decision. “We will have training requirements. We will make sure that the people hiding the weapons receive special training. We’re full of ideas.”

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New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams planned to call a vote asking state legislators to ban people from carrying handguns anywhere that has more than 10,000 people per square mile or anywhere within 1,000 feet of public transportation systems, hospitals, parks. , government buildings, schools, churches, cemeteries, banks, theaters, bars, libraries, homeless shelters and courts – in fact, the entire metropolis.

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former police officer and gun owner, said a gun ban in densely populated areas would save lives.

“We will work together to mitigate the risks that this decision will create once implemented as we cannot let New York become the Wild West,” Adams said.

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Tom King, plaintiff’s president of the New York State Riflemen and Pistols Association, said gun owners in his state and across the country “are not a problem.”

“The problem is criminals and offenders in the state. And politicians need to learn this, and they need to get their asses up to do something about New York’s crime problem,” King said.

According to him, legal gun owners in New York will no longer be “punished by laws that have nothing to do with the safety of people and do nothing for their safety.”

New York State law, in effect since 1913, states that in order to carry a handgun outside the home, a person applying for a license must demonstrate “good cause”, that is, a real need to carry a weapon.

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A similar standard exists only in a few other states, including California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Hawaii.

The law did not define what good cause meant and gave local officials—often the police department—the power to decide whether to issue a license. In practice, this meant that most applicants had to demonstrate needs that went beyond normal public safety concerns, such as a profession that put them at particular risk.

In New York City, few people other than retired law enforcement officers and armed guards could obtain a license to carry a handgun.

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The lawsuit was filed by two New York men who were denied permission to carry handguns outside the home after failing to prove to authorities they had a good reason to do so.

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In their ruling Thursday, written by Judge Clarence Thomas, a majority of Supreme Court Justices said New York rules prevent “law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.”

In a concurring opinion, Judge Brett Kavanaugh noted that the court’s ruling does not prevent states from imposing licensing requirements to carry firearms, such as requiring someone to be fingerprinted, undergo a mental health screening or firearms training, or prohibit people from carrying weapons in sensitive areas such as schools and government buildings.

The decision, he said, would put New York in much the same position as 43 other states: if an ordinary person applies for a license to carry a handgun and meets the requirements, he cannot be denied at the discretion of the authorities. licensing officer, or because they cannot demonstrate a compelling need to protect themselves.

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New York City officials insisted that nothing would change immediately, noting that the high court sent the case back to a lower court for further proceedings that could iron out the details of the implementation.

But the decision immediately raised concerns among gun control advocates in New York, saying loosening the rules could create a market for handguns that now barely exists in the state.

You can open more weapon shops. Sales could skyrocket. And this could inevitably lead to more handguns falling into the hands of illicit buyers, such as teenagers or criminals.

In many states, it’s easy for banned buyers to get a gun simply by asking a friend to go to a gun store and buy a gun for them. This is not possible in New York. As a result, most of the weapons used in criminal activities were bought or stolen from another state with more relaxed regulations.

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Gun control advocates argue that this is one of the reasons New York City has one of the lowest death rates from firearms, including suicide, with 3.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 and 5. 3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020.

Iconic urban America, Manhattan had the lowest gun death rate in the state, with 1.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019, according to the Center for Addressing Gun Violence.

Adams, a Democrat, has raised the specter of day-to-day arguments escalating into gunfights on crowded streets and New York City subways. He suggested that police officers would face greater danger as well as a greater burden of distinguishing between legal and illegal weapons in public places.

“That complicates matters,” Adams said. “But we’re going to continue to go after those who carry illegal firearms.”

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Columbia Law School professor Jeffrey Fagan, an expert on gun laws, said studies show gun homicide rates immediately increase in places where restrictions are lifted.

The creation of gun-free zone lists could gain the support of some business groups.

Andrew Righi, chief executive of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said he suspects the vast majority of restaurants, bars and nightclubs don’t want patrons to carry guns.

“We certainly would like to put in place a policy that would allow small businesses to determine what is allowed and what is not in their facilities,” he said.

But lists of prohibited places may not be a deterrent to people who are most likely to kill with these weapons.

The court’s decision came shortly after New York City tightened gun regulations following a May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo where a white gunman killed 10 blacks in a racist attack.

The state for the first time required a license to purchase a semi-automatic rifle and prohibited anyone under the age of 21 from applying. People under this age can still own shotguns and other types of rifles. New York has already required someone aged 21 to own a gun.

The court ruling does not address age restrictions.

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