State legislators should be proud of themselves.
After the US Supreme Court struck down New York’s Concealed Weapons Act because it was unconstitutional, lawmakers changed it in such a way that the latest version will likely be thrown out as well.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled against the state as it defended its concealed carry law. The court said the law was too arbitrary in that it required applicants to demonstrate “just cause” to obtain this class of pistol license. To their credit, lawmakers revised this provision of the law.
But they made many changes regarding where firearms can be carried by those with licenses. They have also increased the amount of information people have to submit with their permit applications.
The Supreme Court upheld the state’s ban on carrying concealed firearms in “sensitive places” such as government buildings and schools. But the state legislature reportedly “improved” that law by redefining what qualified as a “sensitive place.”
“The new measures build on the constitutional exception for the protection of “sensitive places,” prohibiting the carrying of firearms in specific public places, such as colleges and universities; hospitals; places of worship; public transport, including subways; places where alcohol is consumed; homeless shelters and other public residential facilities; places of entertainment such as stadiums, theatres, casinos and polling stations; and places where children congregate such as schools, daycares, playgrounds, libraries, parks, and zoos,” according to information on the website of the office of state attorney general Letitia A. James. “The new law adds requirements for New Yorkers applying for a concealed carry permit, including presentation of a certificate of completion of standardized firearms training and range training . Only applicants deemed to have “good character” and sufficient mental competence – a determination based on an in-person interview, written exam and character references – will be eligible for a concealed carry permit. Applicants may be disqualified due to past unlawful behavior, including misdemeanor convictions for possession of weapons and threatening (placing another person in fear of death or serious injury). Applicants who are denied a permit as a result of this process may appeal.
The Supreme Court ruled that entire geographic regions could not be carved into restricted areas. But now a “sensitive location” includes so many places outside one’s home that it’s hard to pinpoint where owning a firearm in public wouldn’t violate the law. It is illegal to possess a firearm, rifle or shotgun in a “sensitive area”; this applies to both open carry and concealed carry.
People who organize military re-enactments have expressed confusion over the changes to the law. But officials have clarified that these events could still take place. They said no one will be arrested for showing guns.
The West Potsdam Volunteer Fire Department has canceled its fall gun show, which was scheduled for September 24-25.
Lawmakers also created new mandates for gun dealers. They must now record specific information about people buying ammunition. This has resulted in even more chaos as to what needs to be done to comply with the laws.
Maybe that’s why legislators have made these kinds of revisions. There are so many more restricted areas and so much confusion about exactly where guns can be carried that many people will choose to keep their guns at home for fear of being charged with a crime.
The Supreme Court has ruled against requiring concealed carry permit applicants to prove their need to defend themselves before being permitted. But state lawmakers now require that they demonstrate “good character” before obtaining a license; this includes providing three years of social media posts.
Isn’t this essentially the same requirement as before, just a different language? This is just as arbitrary as the previous provision – and will almost certainly be thrown out by a court.
Writing the law this way has been a waste of lawmakers’ time, and defending it will be a waste of taxpayers’ money. They should have considered what the Supreme Court wanted to accomplish with its decision and used that as a guideline for any review.
The changes lawmakers have made to state law will make it harder to pass common-sense gun control measures, the ones that will be more effective. How can New York’s defenders attract pragmatic allies when tied to a state with such radical views on guns?
Before the law is thrown out, lawmakers are expected to amend it to more fully comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. They will have to make these changes eventually, so they should do it now before they spend our money defending something that will be overturned.