New Gun Laws Take Effect Statewide, Gun-Free Zones Established

NEW YORK (AP) — Amid the bright lights and electronic billboards of New York’s Times Square, city officials are putting up signs proclaiming the bustling crossroads a “Gun Free Zone.”

Manhattan’s sprawling tourist attraction is one of many “sensitive” places, including parks, churches and theaters, that will be banned for guns under a new state law that takes effect Thursday. The measure, passed after a US Supreme Court decision in June that expanded gun rights, also sets strict standards for the issuance of concealed carry permits.

New York is among half a dozen states in which the high court struck down key provisions of their gun laws due to the requirement that applicants show they had “adequate cause” to obtain a permit. Gov. Kathy Hochul said Friday that she and her fellow Democrats in the state legislature took action next week because the ruling “destroyed a governor’s ability to protect his citizens from people carrying concealed weapons anywhere they choose.” .

However, the law has led to confusion and legal challenges from gun owners who say it unduly limits their constitutional rights.

“They seem to be designed less to address gun violence and more to simply prevent people from getting guns, even if those people are upstanding, law-abiding citizens who, according to the Supreme Court, have a right to have them,” said Jonathan Corbett. , a Brooklyn attorney and permit applicant who is one of several people challenging the law in court.

A federal judge allowed the new rules to go ahead Wednesday night, hours before they were to go into effect. Despite writing that the arguments for granting a preliminary injunction to stop the rules were persuasive, Judge Glenn Suddaby said that the plaintiffs, an upstate New York resident and three gun rights organizations, had no right to initiate legal action. Suddaby said he made that decision in part because the man, a legal gun owner, could not show that he risked a credible threat of prosecution under the new guidelines, among other factors.

In a tweet, New York Attorney General Letitia James called the ruling a major victory “against baseless attacks by the gun lobby.” In an emailed statement, Erich Pratt, senior vice president of Gun Owners of America, one of the groups that filed the challenge, said Suddaby’s opinion “contains a silver lining for New Yorkers and the nation,” saying that his group would continue to fight “against clear violations of the Second Amendment.”

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Under the law, applicants for a concealed carry permit will be required to complete 16 hours of classroom training and two hours of live fire drills. Ordinary citizens would be prohibited from bringing weapons into schools, churches, subways, theaters and amusement parks, among other places deemed “sensitive” by authorities.

Applicants will also be required to provide a list of social media accounts from the past three years as part of a “character and conduct” review. The requirement was added because shooters sometimes drop hints of violence online before opening fire on people.

Sheriffs in some upstate counties said additional work by their investigators could add to existing backlogs in processing applications.

In Rochester, Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said it currently takes two to four hours to run a pistol permit background check on a “clean” candidate. He estimates that the new law will add an additional one to three hours for each permit. The county has about 600 pending handgun permits.

“It’s going to slow everything down a little bit more,” he said.

In the Mohawk Valley, Fulton County Sheriff Richard C. Giardino had questions about how the digital investigation would proceed.

“He says three years worth of his social media. We’re not going to print three years’ worth of social media posts from around the world. If you look at my Facebook, I send six or 10 things a day,” said the sheriff, a former district attorney and judge.

The list of prohibited spaces to carry weapons has drawn criticism from advocates who say it is so extensive that it will make it difficult for people with permits to move around in public. People carrying a gun can enter private businesses only with a permit, such as a sign posted in the window.

Giardino has already started giving out signs to local businesses saying people can legally carry firearms on the premises. Jennifer Elson, owner of Let’s Twist Again Diner in Amsterdam, said she put up the bailiff’s sign, along with one of her own reading in part “according to our governor, we have to post this nonsense. If you are a law-abiding citizen who has obtained a legal permit to carry, you are welcome here.”

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But in Times Square, visited by some 50 million tourists a year, and in many less crowded places, carrying a gun will be illegal starting Thursday.

New York City Council President Adrienne Adams said Tuesday that she hoped to see authorities act to “protect New Yorkers and visitors who frequent Times Square.”

The Supreme Court ruling also led to a series of laws in California to toughen rules on gun ownership, including a new law that could hold gun dealers and manufacturers liable for any harm caused by anyone with “compromising motive.” reasonable to believe that he is at substantial risk. to use a weapon illegally.

Earlier this month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a measure requiring gun permit applicants to undergo personal interviews with a licensing authority.

New Jersey required people to undergo training before receiving a permit, and would require new residents to register guns brought in from out of state.

Hawaii, which has the lowest number of gun deaths in the country, is still weighing its options. Since the Supreme Court ruling, the state has only issued one new gun permit.

While New York doesn’t keep statewide data on gun permit applications, there are reports of long lines at the county clerk’s office and other evidence of an increase in applications before the law takes effect.

In the Mohawk Valley, Pine Tree Rifle Club President Paul Catucci said interest in the club’s volunteer-led safety courses “exploded” late this summer.

“I had to turn away hundreds of them,” he said.

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Maysoon Khan is a staff member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on hidden topics. Follow Maysoon Khan on Twitter.

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Hill and Khan collaborated from Albany, New York. AP reporter David Porter contributed from New York

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