BOBBY CAINA CALVAN and MARINA VILNEVEVE
NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — New York Democratic leaders are seeking to maintain as many gun restrictions as possible in public after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key parts of the state’s gun licensing law on Thursday.
State and New York officials have focused on identifying “sensitive areas” where concealed weapons may be banned, including a concept that would essentially extend these zones to the entire metropolitan area. Other options being considered include adding new conditions for obtaining a firearms permit, such as requiring gun training.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, has vowed to convene the Democratic-led Legislature to hold a special session to pass the 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.
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, also a Democrat, said state lawmakers should ban people from carrying handguns anywhere that has more than 10,000 people per square mile (259 hectares) or anywhere within 1,000 feet of the systems. public transport, hospitals, parks. , government buildings, schools, churches, cemeteries, banks, theaters, bars, libraries, homeless shelters and courthouses. This would effectively include the entire city.
While it is not yet clear where the discussions might lead, it was clear that the Democratic leadership in New York felt it necessary to maintain some restrictions on the carrying of weapons in public places. Officials say such restrictions save lives: Statistics show the state and its largest city consistently have one of the lowest gun death rates in the country.
“We are ready to set an example that will serve as an example for the country: how can we fight back against this decision?” New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, former police officer and gun owner, said.
“We can’t let New York become the Wild West,” he said.
New York, like many other U.S. cities, is facing growing concerns about violent crime, although NYPD statistics show shootings are down about 12% this year and homicides down 13% from last year. the same period last year. But the number of homicides has remained in second place since 2012.
The Supreme Court’s decision came shortly after New York State tightened rules on the use of semi-automatic weapons following the May 14 shooting in Buffalo, where a white militant with such weapons killed 10 blacks in a racist attack. Officials said the guns were purchased legally, but New York does not allow the sale of used ammunition magazines.
When state leaders reacted to the ruling on Thursday, Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy said it was “disgusting but highly predictable” that Hochul and other Democrats “are trying to create fear and division over the right of a rightful gun owner to protect himself and his family.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, tweeted that Hochul “is best not to take the next step in this latest attack on law-abiding New Yorkers.”
New York state law dates back to 1913. It requires people to demonstrate “good cause” — a real need to carry a weapon — to obtain a license to carry a handgun outside the home.
Similar standards exist in several other states, including California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Hawaii.
New York law did not define what good cause meant and left local authorities—often the police—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 other than retired law enforcement officers and armed security guards could obtain such a license.
In Thursday’s ruling, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, a Supreme Court majority said New York rules prevent “law-abiding citizens with ordinary needs for self-defense from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.”
In a concurring opinion, Judge Brett Kavanaugh noted that the ruling does not prevent states from imposing firearms licensing requirements, such as fingerprinting, mental health record checks, firearms training, or gun bans in sensitive places such as schools. and government buildings. .
But majority opinion suggests that there are limits to how broad site-based restrictions can be: “There is no historical basis for New York City to actually declare Manhattan Island a ‘sensitive place’ simply because it is overcrowded” and guarded by the police. Thomas wrote.
Brooklyn Law School professor Bill Araiza said the court “seemed to suggest that governments could certainly restrict the carrying of guns in high-profile places” but “cooled the water” on the idea of extensive gun-free zones.
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.
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.
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.
Adams raised the specter of everyday arguments escalating into gunfights on the crowded streets and subways of New York. 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.
Some business groups are also concerned. Andrew Righi of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a group of restaurant and nightclub owners, said small businesses should be able to decide what is allowed in their establishments.
Associated Press contributors Michelle L. Price, Michael Hill, and Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.