ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers on Thursday were set to pass a bill that would severely limit where concealed carry guns could be allowed in the state in aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the state’s century-old firearm law.
The state Legislature was called back to the Capitol by Gov. Kathy Hochul for the one-day session to address the court ruling. Lawmakers were expected to vote later in the evening, but after 1 a.m. Friday, the body kicked deliberations over to the following morning.
The measure would restrict where an individual can go with a concealed weapon, such as being banned from schools and subways; strengthen permit requirements; bolster safe storage rules and require a license to purchase ammunition.
“This is dealing with the fact that the Supreme Court less than a week ago turned our world upside down,” Hochul said at news conference on Wednesday. “And now it says that there’s going to be a much higher number of people walking our streets, going on the subway, sitting next to someone on a bus unless we take action to protect our citizens.”
The 6-3 court decision, which divided the court along ideological lines, expanded guns rights by striking down New York’s requirement that gun owner’s show “proper cause” to carry a weapon outside the home for self-defense. The law had been on the books since 1911.
The ruling reverberated across the nation, making it clear how the decision might impact states and localities outside New York that also put significant restrictions on obtaining permits to carry guns for self-defense outside the home. Two members of the court who joined in last week's decision, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts, suggested it would affect only six states other than New York because they, too, put the onus on a gun owner to justify issuance of a permit.
Hochul said New York will pave the way with strict legislation surrounding concealed carry weapons, toeing the line of what’s legally permissible without leaving the state open to another round of lawsuits.
"I'm working hard with my team to have something that is common sense, something that is legally sustainable because of course there's challenges when we get sued every day of the week," Hochul said. "But I want to make sure that we've done everything we can to protect the citizens of this state."
She added: “I will go right up to the line, I will not cross the line, but I know that we can do whatever we can to protect New Yorkers."
Lawmakers, however, didn't see the specific language of the bill when they arrived in Albany, and they were expected to work through the night to pass the bill when it lands on their desks.
"The governor, I think, has made pretty clear: A lot of things are still on the table and we are again in new legal territory, so we're trying to make sure that we do this right," Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D-Brooklyn) told reporters.
"We're continuing to have serious discussions because the implications are hard to overstate, and we want to ensure that we're doing this the constitutional way, in a way that comports with the court's opinion."
He said there are two main questions the legislation will address: who can have a concealed carry license and where they can go with that weapon. One aspect of the package would require private businesses to opt in to allowing concealed carry weapons in their establishments by posting signs in the affirmative.
Where can you go with a concealed weapon? The state may not have the grounds to limit who receives a concealed carry based solely on probable cause, but they plan to significantly limit where individuals with the license can go by defining "sensitive areas."
Hochul said locations deemed as “sensitive areas” will be off limits to concealed carry weapons. The list she provided on Wednesday was extensive, covering government buildings, parks, mass transit, health and medical facilities, places where children gather, daycare centers, schools, zoos, playgrounds, polling places and educational institutions.
Permit requirements: Hochul said to attain a permit the law may add to its list of disqualifying criteria for applicants that include a history of dangerous behavior or mental health issues. Additionally, she said they are working out details regarding in-person training, which could be at least 15 hours. She said improvements to information sharing for state police backgrounds checks is also a consideration.
Safe storage: Hochul said there could be more requirements to ensure safe storage, such as how a gun is stored in a car. And households with children 18 years old and under will be required to have their guns locked up.
Purchase of ammunition: Hochul also mentioned requirements in the purchase of ammunition for guns that require a permit. She said a background check will be required to purchase ammunition and a permit will need to be shown at the time of purchase.