State officials pass new gun regulations in wake of Supreme Court ruling
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
Governor Kathy Hochul and New York Democrats in the Senate and Assembly passed a new, sweeping gun law during an “extraordinary session” held June 30-July 1.
The new regulations were passed in direct opposition to the Supreme Court overturning a 109-year-old New York concealed carry law with its decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen on June 23, officials said.All five sponsors of the legislation are Democrats representing districts in New York City or just north of the city.
Senators Joe Griffo, Dan Stec and Patty Ritchie, who represent a large portion of the North Country, all voted against the legislation.
"I consider today to be a return favor to the United States Supreme Court for what they have attempted to do to New York state's concealed carry law. The Empire State strikes back today," Senator Brad Hoylman said after Hochul signed the bill into law late at night on July 1.
The new regulations will create a number of hurdles for concealed carry applicants and holders seeking to renew a license, including a new round of interviews, background checks, training requirements and updated renewal requirements.
In the first weekend since the legislation passed, thirteen individuals were shot and three were killed in six separate incidents in New York City over the Fourth of July weekend, according to NBC New York.
The crux of the legislation comes in the form of new “sensitive spaces” or gun-free zones.
According to the state’s website, firearms are not permitted in the following locations.
• Government facilities
• Childcare facilities, nursery schools, preschools and summer camps
• Libraries, zoos, public playground and parks
• Establishments issued licenses for on-site alcohol or cannabis consumption
• Health care and mental health facilities
• Polling places
• Public sidewalks during permitted events
• Homeless or domestic violence shelters
• Places of worship
• Public transit
• Buildings and grounds owned or leased by certain educational institutions, including public schools and colleges
• Places used for performance art, entertainment, gaming or sporting events
• Gathering where people assemble to exercise constitutional rights to assemble and protest
• Times Square
Private businesses and privately owned property are also off limits for concealed carry holders, unless the property owner or lessee explicitly states firearms are allowed on the premises, officials say.
Firearms will only be allowed in New York State Parks for hunting as well, according to the legislation.
The prohibited spaces are also not only off limits for concealed carry holders but individuals with rifles and shotguns as well, according to the legislation.
Police officers, peace officers, security workers, private security and military personnel are excluded from the new regulations.
Critics of the legislation claim the new regulations amount to nothing more than a statewide designation as a sensitive space, tantamount to the restrictions struck down by the Supreme Court in June.
New regulations will also tighten the scope for issuing concealed carry licenses, with less serious violations now rendering applicants ineligible.
According to the legislation, a person convicted of third-degree assault, misdemeanor driving while intoxicated or third-degree menacing in the last five years will be ineligible for a license.
The move comes as Federal officials passed similar legislation that makes it more difficult for persons under 21 to purchase semi-auto rifles with enhanced background check procedures. The federal legislation will include mental hygiene database investigations and in depth criminal background investigations dating back to juvenile disciplinary records.
New applicant requirements
New conceal carry applicants will also have a tougher process under the new legislation, with in person interviews required with licensing officers.
New regulations also “increase what must be submitted to a licensing officer during the application process,” though specifics were not immediately available. One known requirement will be the submission of all social media profiles, whether active or not, to the state police for the investigation process.
Officials called for the implementation of social media profile investigations after the Buffalo, NY shooter posted a racist manifesto on his social media profiles prior to committing a mass shooting at a Tops supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood.
Fingerprinting will also be required, along with the submission of four personal references, though those requirements have been in place in St. Lawrence County for a number of years.
Recertification of licenses
License holders will now be required to renew conceal carry licenses every three years, down from the five years that was previously designated with the SAFE Act.
For licenses issued more than three years prior to the effective date of the legislation or within one year of expiration, recertification and renewal will be required within a year.
The renewal will include proof of training, an interview with the licensing officer, disclosure of social media profiles, a new background check and additional mental health hygiene database investigations.
Live fire training
New applicants and current license holders are also required to undergo 16 hours of in person training.
During the course, two hours of live fire training must be conducted and a score of 80% or higher must be obtained on the written exam for those applying.
For individuals renewing a concealed carry license who have yet to complete a course, training must be completed before submission of a renewal application or the licensee will have their license revoked, officials say.
All courses must be conducted with trained and certified instructors, with online courses not considered sufficient, according to officials.
Background checks on ammunition purchases
The new legislation also seeks to institute a regulation that was already struck by disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Under the SAFE Act and the new legislation, a database is to be enacted for tracking all ammunition purchases state wide.
Dealers must conduct a background check on all ammunition buyers, who must have a valid, government issued identification, through a new bureau with the state police, according to the legislation.
The state police will also be responsible for maintaining the database and conducting all background checks for firearms, according to the legislation.
The database and new bureau are to be enacted within thirty days and are allegedly not coming at the expense of any municipality, according to state officials.
Safe storage redefined
Safe storage of firearms will now include having all firearms secured in a home with children under 18 or within a home with an individual who may suffer from mental health issues, according to the legislation.
Storage in vehicles is also redefined, with firearms now required to be secured in a locked container, separate from ammunition, which also must be stored in a secure, locked container, according to officials.
Redefining body armor, rifles and shotguns
The legislation also sought to redefine body armor after officials say the omission of the word “armor” could prove decisive in an appeal of the law.
Under previous legislation, the term “body vest” was used to define the use of protective vests, with many saying the term “vest” only encompassed “soft armor”.
The new language now encompasses all forms of protection, including steel plate armor, largely rendering any form of protection illegal for citizens.
Police officers, peace officers, security officers and other professions designated by the state are exempt from the new legislation.
The legislation also includes new punishments for the sale, purchase and use of body armor in any capacity. Those found to buy, sell or wear body armor will now be subject to punitive action by the state, though specific penalties were not outlined in the new legislation.
Though the legislation also states that the terms rifle and shotgun have been redefined, no specific language was available as of press time.
North Country officials react
On July 2, Senator Dan Stec posted a message on his Facebook page, saying he opposed the legislation outright.
“I voted against the gun control legislation that passed during Extraordinary Session because it clearly violates the Constitution. Additionally, when given the chance to address illegal gun use and violent crime through a common sense amendment, Senate Democrats voted it down. I believe the actions taken today will only serve to make New Yorkers less safe by making it harder for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves in a state that’s become much more dangerous due to the current one party rule’s pro-criminal agenda,” Stec posted.
Assemblyman Mark Walczyk, who is running to replace the retiring Senator Patty Ritchie, commented on July 1, “I showed up for Kathy Hochul's "Extraordinary Session" yesterday. We did nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
A few hours later, he posted once again on his Facebook page saying, “The Governor of the State of New York called an extraordinary session of the legislature for the purposes of violating the US Constitution.”
Senators Joe Griffo and Patty Ritchie did not post any public comment regarding the passage of the legislation, though they did vote against it.