According to the Supreme Court, New York’s method of approving firearm permits for the last century or so was unconstitutional. So the state changed it – and while the new gun law might guarantee qualified applicants their licenses, it also raises the requirements to make it much harder to get and stay certified. Of the several extreme measures in the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, one – the blanket ban on carrying in certain areas – has already inspired at least two lawsuits and, quite likely, a bevy of left-wing legislators across the country. So, where are these, as the bill puts it, “sensitive locations”? The short answer appears to be “almost everywhere.”
No Guns on Government Property
The first item on the very long list is “[a]ny place owned or under the control of federal, state or local government, for the purpose of government administration, including courts.” In simpler terms: Any facility run by the government, from a public school to a congressman’s office to the local municipal water office, is a gun-free zone. Public transportation is off limits, as well as all of Times Square and any public park.
Sidewalks and streets are to be free of firearms whenever people are gathered to exercise their First Amendment right to peacefully assemble, which makes merely walking around outside armed a legal minefield. Even if a concealed-carry permit holder were to carefully map out a route across town and check with the local authorities to make sure no demonstrations were scheduled, there’s no way to assure one doesn’t walk into an impromptu protest – especially in the big cities of the state. As Liberty Nation’s Graham J. Noble put it, “This list of locations covers almost every conceivable public space.”
Private Property and Residential Parks
Private property is now restricted by default, as the law requires gun-friendly owners to either provide verbal permission or post “clear and conspicuous signage indicating that the carrying of firearms, rifles, or shotguns on their property is permitted.” Since there’s no mention in this section of businesses versus residences, it technically applies to both. That shouldn’t be confused as a total gun ban on private property, of course, as the owners clearly have their own permission to carry – but it’s about as close as one can get. Programs that must be opted out of rather than into are almost always more successful, as the burden to act no longer falls to those wanting in but to those wanting out.
There also exists a sort of hybrid between public and private property that presents problems of its own. As mentioned already, public parks are entirely gun free. That would include Adirondack Park, a 9,375- square-mile – or six-million-acre – region enveloping more than 100 communities and a total of about 132,000 year-round residents, with another 200,000 or so who live there seasonally.
A little more than half the park is privately owned, meaning, presumably, that it falls under the private property rules requiring permission. The rest, however, is controlled by the state, which makes it gun free. There is an exception made for legally hunting where and when it’s allowed, but armed locals worry about what happens when they leave their homes outside of the brief hunting seasons. Would a traffic stop result in arrest for no reason other than the presence of a firearm? What about dining out, grocery shopping, or just making a pit stop at a service station? “I’m not even sure that you could actually stop and use the bathroom if you had to between you and the gun range,” John Bowe, president of the Dunham’s Bay Fish and Range Club, told Reuters, which also reported that even county clerks involved in the gun-license system and at least one Adirondacks district attorney say the law is unclear. Rick Bennett, who sells firearms and fishing gear in North Creek, worries that getting pulled over in the wrong place in the near future could see him convicted of a felony, thus stripping him of his right to keep and bear arms as well as making it impossible to continue in his line of work. “It pretty much means I’ve got to leave the firearm at home,” he said.
Then, of course, there are the self-defense concerns, and not just against human predators. “The area is defined by the Adirondack Mountains, and by the more than 3,000 lakes and ponds, and 30,000 miles of rivers and streams,” the Times Union’s real estate page explains. “Hiking, fishing, canoeing, rafting, skiing and cycling all draw visitors and keep locals out in the natural world.” It’s also home to an estimated 70% of the state’s bears, and while attacks are rare, they do happen.
NY Gun Law – A Multipurpose Muse
The new gun law has already inspired at least two lawsuits, and there will almost certainly be more, if not by the time it takes effect Sept. 1, then likely shortly after. Tom King, who lives just south of the Adirondacks, is president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. Since the passage of the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, King reports having received hundreds of calls from those living in the park.
But worried residents aren’t the only ones inspired. Anti-gun legislators across the nation are watching New York. Should the Concealed Carry Improvement Act survive litigation, at least five other states – California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey – seem likely to break out in a rash of sensitive locations of their own.