By BOBBY CAINA CALVAN and MARINA VILLENEUVE – Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) – New York’s Democratic leaders are striving to enforce as many restrictions on carrying a gun in public as possible after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down key parts of the state’s gun-license law.
State and New York City officials are focusing on specifying “sensitive locations” where concealed weapons could be banned, including a concept that would essentially extend those zones to the entire metropolitan area. Other options being considered include adding new conditions for obtaining a gun license, such as requiring weapons training.
Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, promised to recall the Democrat-led legislature for a special session to pass new rules.
“We have a lot of ideas,” said Hochul, who said she discussed policy options with the mayors of the state’s six largest cities on Thursday.
Adrienne Adams, New York City Council president, also a Democrat, said state lawmakers should prohibit people from carrying guns in any place with more than 10,000 people per square mile (259 acres), or anywhere within a radius of 300 feet from public transportation systems, hospitals, parks, government offices, schools, churches, cemeteries, banks, theaters, bars, libraries, homeless shelters, and courts. That would, in fact, encompass the entire city.
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While it’s not yet clear what might come of the discussions, it was clear that New York’s Democratic leadership feels a sense of urgency to curb guns in public places. The officials claim such restrictions are life-saving: Statistics show that the state, and its largest city, consistently ranks among the lowest death rates in the country.
“We are ready to set an example that will lead the country in the question: how do we fight back on this decision?” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat and former police officer and gun owner.
“We cannot allow New York to become the Wild West,” he said.
New York, like many other US cities, faces growing concerns about violent crime, although New York City’s police statistics so far show about 12% this year and homicides 13%, compared to the same period last year. But homicides remain at the second highest level since 2012.
The Supreme Court’s opinion comes shortly after New York state tightened rules on semi-automatic rifles following a May 14 shooting in Buffalo, where a white gunman with such a weapon killed 10 black people in a racist attack. Officials said the weapon was purchased legally, but New York does not allow the sale of the used ammunition magazines.
While state leaders reacted to Thursday’s ruling, Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy said it was “disgusting yet very predictable” that Hochul and other Democrats “are trying to stir fear and division over a legal gun owner’s right to protect themselves and their families.” to protect”.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican nominee for governor, tweeted that Hochul “better not to take her next step in this new attack on law-abiding NYers.”
The New York state law dates back to 1913. It requires people to demonstrate a “proper reason” — an actual need to carry the gun — in order to be licensed to carry a gun outdoors.
There are similar standards in a handful of other states, including California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Hawaii.
New York law didn’t define what a valid reason meant, and it gave local authorities — often police — discretion when issuing a permit. In practice, this meant that most applicants had to demonstrate a need beyond routine public safety concerns, such as pursuing a profession that puts them at particular risk.
In New York City, few people except retired law enforcement officers and armed guards could obtain such a permit.
In Thursday’s ruling, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, a Supreme Court majority said New York’s rules prevented “law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear weapons in public.”
In a concurring opinion, Judge Brett Kavanaugh noted that the decision does not prevent states from imposing small arms licensing requirements, such as fingerprinting, mental health records checks, firearms training or banning the carrying of weapons in sensitive places, such as schools and hospitals. government buildings. †
But majority opinion suggested there were limits to how drastic the place-based restrictions could be: “There is no historical basis for New York to effectively declare Manhattan Island a ‘sensitive place’ simply because it is crowded” and controlled, Thomas wrote.
Brooklyn Law School professor Bill Araiza said the court “seemed to suggest that it’s certainly okay for governments to restrict the carrying of guns in sensitive areas,” but “cast cold water” on the idea of sprawling gun-free zones.
New York City officials insisted nothing would change immediately, noting that the Supreme Court was returning the case to a lower court for further proceedings that could smooth out execution details.
But the decision immediately sparked fear among supporters of the small arms limits in New York, saying that relaxing the rules could create a market for handguns that now barely exists in the state.
New York has one of the lowest rates of deaths from firearms, including suicides: 3.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 and 5.3 deaths per 100,000 people in 2020.
Manhattan, a symbol of urban America, had the lowest firearms death rate in the state, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, at 1.7 deaths per 100,000 in 2019.
Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia Law School professor who is an expert on gun laws, said research indicates that firearms homicides are immediately rising in places where restrictions are lifted.
Adams raised the specter of mundane disputes that culminated in shootings in New York’s bustling streets and subways. He suggested that police officers would be at greater risk, as well as a greater burden of distinguishing between legal and illegal weapons in public places.
Some business groups are also concerned. Andrew Rigie of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a group of restaurant and nightclub owners, said small businesses should be able to decide what’s allowed in their establishments.
Associated Press writers Michelle L. Price, Michael Hill and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.
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