ALBANY — The State Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday had a broad deal to establish new restrictions for New Yorkers to carry concealed handguns, but agreement on some critical details remained elusive into the night.
Lawmakers and Hochul’s staff had hoped to have a vote Thursday, but work drafting the bills was unfinished when the day ended at midnight. Work continued until shortly before 1:30 a.m. Friday, and was set to resume later in the day.
The task of the Legislature and Hochul was to revamp the state’s concealed-carry law after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the 100-year-old law this month. The law had required a judge to determine that an applicant had a legitimate reason to need to carry a concealed pistol or revolver.
The Supreme Court, however, said that was a subjective standard that shouldn’t be required to exercise the right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s 2nd Amendment. However, the high court said other, objective factors, such as training and banning concealed weapons in some “sensitive” areas, could be constitutional.
The new requirements for a law to allow concealed-carry permits to be issued was expected to include:
- 16 hours of training including about two hours shooting at a range.
- A sunset of three years for concealed-carry permits, which could be renewed.
- Identification of “sensitive areas” where guns would be banned, except for law enforcement. Those areas would likely include: Public transportation, bars and other places where alcohol and marijuana is legally sold and used, voting sites, public sidewalks during special events, theaters, casinos, arenas, performance centers, racetracks, schools, playgrounds, places where children frequent, government buildings, health care facilities including nursing homes, and buildings used for religious observances.
- A ban on carrying firearms into businesses unless owners opt out of the provision. If owners do, a sign must be placed in a window that clearly states to prospective customers that concealed-carry weapons were welcomed.
- A requirement that firearms in vehicles be locked and secured.
- Background checks for the purchase of ammunition. Buyers also will have to show their permit to purchase bullets for a handgun.
- Locking and securely storing firearms in a household that includes a resident 18 years old or younger.
Hochul has said the package also will include a renewed effort to create a database of bullet markings that could be used in solving crimes. The database was approved nine years ago, but has faced technical issues, state officials said.
Legislators said the lengthy negotiation with their attorneys focused on crafting language that would withstand legal challenges.
“We want to make sure we do this in a constitutional way,” said Sen. Zellnor Y. Myrie (D-Brooklyn). “There is a general agreement between the houses and the second floor” governor’s office, “but this is such an important public safety bill we don’t want it unnecessarily subject to attack.”
A lawsuit by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association led to the Supreme Court declaring the old concealed-carry law unconstitutional. The association and other gun owner rights groups have said they would continue to sue the state over laws that impinge on legal gun owners’ rights.
Republicans argued the Democrats are putting more restrictions on law-abiding owners of firearms, when the focus of gun control should be on keeping firearms away from criminals and mass shooters.
In addition, the Legislature on Thursday planned to make the first of two approvals of a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would prohibit specific forms of discrimination and make abortion a right.
The bill has taken on new urgency after the Supreme Court this month struck down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal. The state’s “equality amendment” would prohibit discrimination based on “race, color, ethnicity, national origin, disability or sex including pregnancy outcomes, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”
Two separately elected legislatures must approve a proposed constitutional amendment before it can go before voters in a general election. That could be as soon as November 2023.
— With Yancey Roy and AP