After the Supreme Court issued its ruling on New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which deemed that New York’s gun licensing scheme was unconstitutional, Democratic leaders vowed to seek ways to mitigate the impact of the decision. What followed in the Empire State was a slew of measures essentially barring residents from carrying handguns in most public places. But some business owners are exploiting a loophole in the legislation to push back against the attempt to limit the bearing of arms.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law weeks after the Bruen ruling, imposing new restrictions on people carrying firearms outside of their homes. The bill designates more locations as sensitive, meaning one is not legally allowed to carry a gun in these areas. They include healthcare facilities, places of worship, government property, public parks, preschools, summer camps, educational institutions, mass transit hubs, sporting arenas, casinos, zoos, Times Square, and several others.
The new law also requires those seeking a concealed carry license to meet with a licensing officer to undergo an interview. Applicants must also provide four character references, a list of social media accounts, and any other information the officer demands.
People who want to carry concealed must also undergo 16 hours of in-person training. This would include firearm safety, storage safety, conflict de-escalation, and more. Other blue states have enacted similar laws after the Bruen decision.
New Yorkers Push Back
Not everyone is happy about these new laws, arguing they are too restrictive and violate the Second Amendment. Nancy Lewandusky, a New York resident with a carry permit and the lead plaintiff in the Bruen case, told USA Today that she questions the justification for these new measures.
“They’re restricting law-abiding citizens of their rights,” she said. “Why are we focusing on people that have no criminal history? Why are we focused on those people when we should be focusing on the people breaking the law?”
While New York’s laws prohibit carrying firearms in most locations, it does have a provision allowing business owners to welcome armed customers into their establishments. They only need to post a sign communicating that their patrons are permitted to carry in their places of business.
“Property owners who do decide to allow concealed carry will have to disclose with signage saying concealed carry is allowed on the premises,” Hochul’s office explained in a written statement. “This allows people to make an informed decision on whether or not they want to be in a space where people could potentially be carrying a weapon.”
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino and state Assemblyman Robert Smullen spoke at a meeting at the Meco Volunteer Fire Department to educate residents about the new gun laws. “You now have to be careful,” Smullen said. “As a law abiding gun owner, you must be careful so as not to put yourself into a position where you could be made into a criminal by a law that’s moved the goal post.”
Giardino noted that the Fulton County Sheriff’s Association created about 250 signs that read: “Notice: Lawful Concealed Carry Permitted on these Premises.” The sheriff said he has given out about 75 signs and noted that there are smaller, less “provocative” signs available as well.
Vince Perrella, who owns an auto repair shop, said he would put up one of the signs allowing people to bring guns into his business. “I have no problem with it,” he told The Leader-Herald. “I’m sure I have a few [customers that do it now]. I think the biggest thing is I travel back and forth from work and I carry money. So, I’ve always [carried a firearm] back and forth from work. So, if I have to put it into a lockbox, I might as well not take it. And what I think they’re trying to do is for people who don’t have a [concealed carry] permit to make it so hard that they’ll just say ‘Nah, I won’t do it,’ and in time they will cut down on the number of people who have guns.”
Other businesses have done the same. Tzvi Waldman, who heads the New York State Jewish Gun Club, has also been handing out signs to business owners. His signs read: “Concealed Carry is Welcome Here. Thank you for keeping our children safe. May Hashem continue to watch over us.”
In a conversation with the Niagara Gazette, he brought up the history of the oppression of Jews and stressed the need to exercise his community’s Second Amendment rights. “It’s embracing the American culture,” he said. “We’re here. We’re safe. Let’s keep America safe. We don’t want it to go back to where it was…As long as we have the right to bear arms no one can force us back into chambers − anyone into chambers. It just can’t happen.”
Gun ownership in America has been on the rise over the past two years amid surging violent crime rates. More people are choosing to arm themselves for a variety of reasons, one of which is they realize the police will not always be able to protect them. In light of this, it would be no surprise that more New Yorkers embrace the right to bear arms despite their state’s attempt to subvert the Bruen decision.