NY tightens gun laws after Supreme Court ruling

·4 min read

New York passed reforms to the state's gun laws Friday night, one week after the U.S. Supreme Court upended a central feature of the gun licensing process in several states, including New York.

“A week ago, the Supreme Court issued a reckless decision removing century-old limitations on who is allowed to carry concealed weapons in our state — senselessly sending us backward and putting the safety of our residents in jeopardy," Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

"Today, we are taking swift and bold action to protect New Yorkers.”

Hochul had called an extraordinary session of the legislature into session in order to pass these reforms. It took the legislature all of Thursday and into Friday night to agree on the details.

Hochul said in the waning hours of the session that she would refuse to allow the ruling (and a separate decision on abortion) to roll back rights and protections in New York.

"We're not going backwards," she said. "They may think they can change our lives with the stroke of a pen. But we have pens, too."

The changes signed Friday severely limit where guns can be carried in public and impose additional requirements on pistol permit applicants. Further, concealed carry would be prohibited by default at private businesses unless the business owner chooses to allow it.

Other provisions include:

  • Applicants for concealed-carry licenses must undergo 16 hours of training and pass a proficiency test

  • Guns must be locked up in vehicles as state law already requires for those in homes with children

  • The state will do monthly checks of license holders for criminal convictions and other disqualifying acts

"What we are doing is responding specifically and promptly to a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that invalidated a specific provision of our law, and we are removing that provision," said Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan). "The bill does have several improvements that are intended to ensure fairness, consistency and due process."

Republican members of the legislature voiced their objections to the changes, with Sen. Pamela Helming (R-Geneva) arguing that "criminals are not rule followers" and will not "follow the requirements outlined in this bill."

Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) expressed vehement outrage during the debate that the proposals were "more unconstitutional in every shape and form than what was just struck down."

While not directly addressing other aspects of New York's licensing regime, the Supreme Court did appear to implicitly bless certain procedural requirements, so long as they did not unfairly burden the newly established Second Amendment right to carry a firearm outside the home.

"We're not trying to blame responsible gun owners," Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx) said at a press gaggle Friday. "Some of these tragedies that we had right here in New York were done with legally purchased guns as well. So we're just asking those who have guns legally to be responsible."

Related: NY officials blast Supreme Court ruling striking down handgun law

New York becomes the first state to revise its gun laws following last week's Supreme Court decision, which originated here, striking down its "proper cause" law to carry a handgun. The ruling opened up the possibility that more people could carry handguns in public.

However, the approximately half-dozen states with similar laws were put on notice by the Supreme Court's decision. California has already moved to brush aside its proper cause requirement, with the state's attorney general informing local prosecutors that the heightened standard should be viewed as unconstitutional.

Early Friday morning, Hochul's office laid out a long list of new gun restrictions that were passed Friday, known as the Concealed Carry Improvement Act. It narrowed the list of acceptable places to carry a concealed gun, banning them (for most gun owners) from medical or educational buildings, zoos, public transit, Times Square and other spaces.

Other parts of the bill included stronger safe storage laws for vehicles and homes, and strengthening the criteria that would disqualify someone from having a gun, including "a history of dangerous behavior," Hochul said.

The measures take effect Sept. 1.

The special session also included a resolution to "solidify" abortion rights in the state constitution, a response to the Supreme Court's ruling, also last week, overturning Roe v. Wade and turning abortion decisions to states.

Staff writers Chris McKenna and Sarah Taddeo contributed to this article.

This article originally appeared on New York State Team: NY restricts gun laws Friday after court ruling: Live updates