Albany passes tougher gun laws following SCOTUS ruling

ALBANY, NY — After a grueling two-day special session, state lawmakers passed new gun laws Friday night to blunt the effects of a Supreme Court ruling last week that untangled the century-old state licensing rules.

The High Court ruled that New York’s requirement that plaintiffs show good cause for carrying concealed firearms was too prohibitive, and lawmakers returned to Albany on Thursday to bolster state laws on firearms in response.

The Concealed Wear Improvement Act, passed 43-20 by the Senate on Friday afternoon and 91-51 by the House later that night, requires candidates to demonstrate ‘good character’, complete a course gun safety and provide data from their social media accounts as part of enhanced background checks.

It also defines “sensitive places” – such as schools, polling places and certain public assembly areas – where weapons are prohibited for most license holders.

“We are trying to create uniformity, which is what the Supreme Court really asked us to do and … we are achieving that goal and securing New York,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​told reporters before passing the bill on Friday, adding that « people will be very clear about how they can get a permit. »

Lawmakers have attempted to thread the needle to narrowly tailor the candidacy process without imposing subjective or arbitrary restrictions. And Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration said Friday that the « good character » requirement was not too subjective to pass.

« First of all, the character standard was not an issue in the Supreme Court, and it’s been issued in other states, » the governor’s attorney Liz Fine said at a news conference. « I don’t think there’s any question of the state having the authority and responsibility to screen license applicants to make sure they’re not going to pose a danger to themselves if they’re able to get a gun. »

Licensing officers will review each applicant and those refused will have the opportunity to appeal, she said.

Applicants must attend a firearms safety course, undergo “enhanced screening” with in-person interviews, and submit to their social media reviews. In addition, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services will review licensee records monthly for criminal convictions, criminal indictments, and protective orders.

Buying ammunition would also trigger a DCJS background check, and the bill further restricts the types of body armor that can be sold. And Hochul said Friday she would tear up an agreement made under her predecessor Andrew Cuomo that blocked the implementation of an ammunition sales database.

The law also designates gun-free « sensitive locations » where unlawful possession of a firearm is a Class E felony.

These locations include government buildings; any place providing health, behavioral health or chemical dependency care or services; any place of worship or religious observation; libraries; public playgrounds; public parks; zoos; the location of any publicly funded or approved programs; educational institutions of primary and higher education; any vehicle used for public transport; all public transport, including airports and bus stations; bars and restaurants; entertainment, gaming and sporting events and venues; polling stations; any public sidewalk or restricted public area for a special event; and demonstrations or gatherings.

The Supreme Court ruling preserved the right to designate sensitive locations, but warned that lawmakers could not cover entire swaths of the city.

« Put simply, there is no historical basis for New York City to actually declare Manhattan Island a ‘sensitive location’ simply because it is overcrowded and generally protected by the New York Police Department, » reads -one in the opinion.

The law also prohibits the use of firearms on private property, unless the owner authorizes it. Business owners can post a sign on their property to allow the concealed carry of weapons on the premises. If there are no signs, owners of concealed carry permits should assume that firearms are prohibited.

Several groups are exempt, including current and retired law enforcement officers, peace officers, security guards who have a special army registration card, and active duty military. The law also authorizes hunting and hunting education, with the appropriate licenses.

Once Hochul signs it, the law will go into effect Sept. 1, and DCJS will have until April to roll out a background check database and firearms training courses.


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