With New York’s gun law overturned, states scramble to respond

Months before the United States Supreme Court ruled that New York’s law governing the carrying of handguns was unconstitutional, Governor Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers had already begun discussing the way to combat the spread of firearms.

Meetings began late last year and continued into the spring with the court’s decision looming. By the time Judge Clarence Thomas’ opinion was published last week, Ms Hochul and leaders of both chambers were prepared for ideas such as banning a wide range of “sensitive places”, making the process of authorization more difficult and raising the obstacle to obtaining a permit. renewals.

“We have a plan that is legislatively sound,” Ms. Hochul said on Friday. “Now we’re talking to leaders and our partners in the House and the Senate to come up with what we think is a very strong piece of legislation.”

This week, Ms. Hochul will push to pass the bill. She said Monday she plans to work on the measure overnight, discuss its outline with legislative leaders on Tuesday and pass it in a special session on Thursday.

Members of Ms. Hochul’s administration coordinated with Governor Philip D. Murphy’s team of New Jersey, one of five other states affected by the Supreme Court’s sweeping ruling, which marks the largest expansion of gun rights for more than a decade. All of those states — which also include California, Maryland, Massachusetts and Hawaii — will almost certainly rewrite laws in response, and New York and New Jersey’s legislation could serve as a model.

Any such proposal will need to be adapted to the Supreme Court ruling authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, which sets out the requirement that any new regulations must draw on the historical tradition of the United States. Justice Thomas wrote that legislatures could reason by analogy when faced with, for example, the existence of modern subways or sports arenas.

Judge Thomas said it was permissible to deny access to sensitive places and gave examples, but warned that “expanding the category of ‘sensitive places’ to all places of public assembly which do not are not isolated from law enforcement” was too broad a measure. definition.

The ideas at play in New York are sketched in statements from the two governors, a briefing paper that circulated among lawmakers in the first months of the year, and information from four people familiar with the talks, all of whom spoke anonymously as negotiations are still ongoing.

Ms. Hochul suggested banning guns from schools, places of worship and events attended by a number of people. She also said the state could ban guns for businesses by default, making exceptions for those who say they want guns on their property. And she said training and storage requirements could also be on the table for those applying for permits.

In addition to the sensitive places mentioned by Ms. Hochul, New York is considering designating all places where alcohol is served (such as bars, major sporting events) and where children spend time (such as nurseries, playgrounds playgrounds and daycares). Other places considered “sensitive” include college campuses, hospitals and casinos.

The state may also be able to restrict the carrying of firearms outside these places, according to one of the people familiar with the discussions, although it will have to be careful not to ban large swaths of areas. densely populated, which would probably run counter to the decision.

Additionally, New York is considering asking more questions about contestants’ personal backgrounds, to ensure that those who have harmed others or engaged in other questionable behavior could be banned from wearing weapons. But some lawmakers worry that, if not carefully drafted, these restrictions could perpetuate discrimination in gun licensing.

Few people in New York or New Jersey have the illusion that the new laws will completely stem a tide of gun buying. And officials have expressed somber assurance about what is likely to happen next.

“More access to guns equals more deaths from gun violence,” said William J. Castner, attorney and adviser to Mr. Murphy on gun issues.

Indeed, the prospect of new legislation has not dampened the enthusiasm of future gun owners. Korina Favatis, 51, a resident of Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, had once considered buying a handgun, but was persuaded to do so by the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Why can’t I have one to protect me when I feel terrified all the time?” she says.

Ms. Favatis was not concerned that new laws could lessen the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I don’t think they can really do much,” she said.

MP Amy Paulin, from Westchester, is among those aiming to test that claim, pushing leaders to include changes she hopes will help address dangerous situations involving people already authorized, including violence domestic. Instead of the cursory recertification every few years that’s the norm in most states, Paulin wants gun owners to go through a more onerous renewal process, which could include a professional mental health assessment. .

“The weapons that were used in some of the mass shootings were purchased legally,” Paulin noted. “If you just have to declare that you are mentally fit,” she added, “that’s not a good enough standard for someone to carry that gun outside my house.”

In New Jersey, similar strategies are being explored. Mr. Murphy said on Friday he had ordered all departments and agencies to review their authority to “prevent gun violence”, which could include designating certain places “gun-free” and assessing the tools available to regulate how firearms are carried and transported.

He said he would also propose legislation to expand where guns are banned. This would include high-density venues – stadiums, amusement parks, bars and restaurants – and those that serve vulnerable populations, such as child care centers and hospitals.

As in New York, he said, the legislation would create a default rule that firearms cannot be transported on private property unless the owner expressly communicates permission — “that he whether it’s a mall or a supermarket or a private home or a place of worship.”

Acting State Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin also said that handgun owners may need to purchase insurance to carry a gun in public.

“It’s something that’s been discussed,” Platkin said Friday at a press conference in Trenton, NJ. “I defer to the legislative process. But, you know, like automobiles, it’s is a similar concept.

Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the state police, which issues handgun licenses, said he and Mr. Platkin held a call with all 21 county prosecutors and a second with 400 law enforcement officials. Law Enforcement early Friday” to discuss this decision and its impact on New Jersey.

He said the state expects to receive about 200,000 new applications for concealed carry permits. One concern, he said, is a potential increase in handgun violence among drivers, which he described witnessing as a young soldier.

“The fact that there was a gun involved is what changes people’s behavior and makes them act and do things – ready to take someone’s life to be cut off on Route 78, which happens, as everyone knows, about every three minutes in our entire state,” Col. Callahan said.

Nicholas Fandos, Troy Closson and Chelsia Rose Marcius contributed report.


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