New York State’s upgraded gun laws went into effect on Thursday, September 1, a legislative move that exacerbates the damage caused to the Big Apple following the 2019 passage of bail reform legislation that has eliminated the option of setting bail or pre-trial detention for anyone who commits a crime short of a violent felony.
The “quality of life” law enforcement era that brought a business boom to the city prior to the tenure of former Mayor Bill de Blasio is now long gone. Along with its departure has come recidivist shootings, robberies and misdemeanor crimes that make life miserable in the city, together with the bail reform legislation that allows the perpetrators to walk free.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell have appealed to the State Legislature to repeal the bail reform laws as they currently stand, but to no avail.
Instead, state lawmakers passed upgraded gun control laws in response to a US Supreme Court decision several months ago that struck down the state’s century-old pistol permit process.
Although well-intended, the new legislation ensures most average citizens will have great difficulty acquiring a weapon to protect themselves from the bad guys who are, obviously, well supplied with such arms.
The new laws:
• contain strengthened background checks and firearm safety and live-fire training for individuals seeking to obtain concealed carry permits;
• prohibit concealed carry permit holders from bringing their firearms into sensitive locations, including Times Square, bars, libraries, schools, government buildings and hospitals, among others; and
• require renewal or recertification of permits every three years.
The state has created a new Gun Safety Website to provide the public, gun owners, and gun dealers with a comprehensive information about the new requirements under state law.
The problem? Strengthened gun control laws could also work to keep weapons out of the hands of those who could use them for self-defense, like congregants at Jewish synagogues who are tasked with protecting their fellow worshipers as antisemitic attacks in New York City continue to rise.
“I refuse to surrender my right as Governor to protect New Yorkers from gun violence or any other form of harm,” Governor Kathy Hochul nevertheless maintained. “We will continue leading the way forward and implementing common sense gun safety legislation,” she said in a statement after signing the new legislation into law.
New Requirements for Semiautomatic Weapon Owners
As of September 4, new permit and minimum age requirements related to ownership of semiautomatic rifles will also take effect.
After that date, an individual must be at least 21 years old and have a permit prior to purchasing or taking possession of a semiautomatic rifle.
The new requirements were included in a package of legislation passed in response to a racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo this spring.
Licenses are not required for individuals who possessed semiautomatic rifles before September 4, 2022.
New Background Check Requirements
For more than 100 years, New York required individuals seeking concealed carry permits to undergo background checks that included checking whether they had any criminal convictions that could disqualify them gun ownership, and character references.
In response to the Bruen decision, the state standardized and strengthened the background checks required for concealed carry permits by requiring:
• four character references;
• a list of former and current social media accounts for the last three years;
• disclosure of applicant’s spouse or domestic partner, any other adults residing in the applicant’s home, including any adult children of the applicant; and
• an in-person interview with their licensing officer or designee.
• Licensing offers may request any additional information they deem appropriate.
The firearm training requirement applies to all concealed carry permit applicants on and after September 1, 2022, including individuals who live in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, and those who are required to renew their permits.
The 16-hour classroom and two-hour, live-fire firearm safety training course must meet the state’s new minimum standards, aimed at mandating licensed firearm owners to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to safely store and carry their firearms. The training also educates participants about conflict de-escalation, suicide prevention and use of deadly force.
Individuals who currently have concealed carry permits and recertify those permits with the New York State Police are not required to complete this new training.
State Police Requirements for 2023
Renewal and recertification of concealed carry permits is now required every three years instead of five. By year’s end, the State Police plan to institute an online recertification process for permit holders.
The State Police are working to implement other requirements that take effect in 2023:
• establishing state oversight for background checks for firearms (July 1),
• creating statewide permit and ammunition databases (August 1), and
• partnering with the state Division of Criminal Justice Services to establish an appeals board to review permit denials and revocations.
Lawmakers Insist New Laws Will Keep New Yorkers Safe
“This law will help keep New Yorkers safe in public spaces – not just schools and government buildings, but in grocery stores, public transportation, restaurants and places of worship,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement.
“We will be posting signage at every entrance into Times Square informing those traveling through that the area is a gun-free zone and that licensed gun carriers and others may not enter with a gun unless otherwise specially authorized by law,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams added.
Will the bad guys even notice those signs? Or will they view those as places with unarmed potential victims.
“As mayor of New York City and a former police officer, my top priority will always be the safety of all 8.8 million people who call this city home, so while the Supreme Court decision may have opened an additional river feeding the sea of gun violence, we are doing everything we can to dam it and keep New York the safest big city in America.”
State Police, Criminal Justice Division FAQs
The State Police and state Division of Criminal Justice Services has developed Frequently Asked Questions about the new gun laws for the public, gun owners, and gun dealers. In addition to training and expanded background check requirements, the laws:
• Restrict individuals from carrying their concealed pistol or revolver in sensitive locations. Individuals who are not exempt from this restriction under the law can be charged with a felony for violating its sensitive locations provision. The state will launch / has launched a public awareness campaign to educate New Yorkers about these new restrictions.
• Require monthly checks of permit holders to determine if they have criminal convictions or court orders that may disqualify them from having concealed carry permits. The state will provide this information to local licensing officials for action.
• Mandate that firearms in unattended vehicles be unloaded and locked in a fire, impact, and tamper resistant storage depository that is hidden from view.
• Expand safe storage requirements if children younger than 18 or anyone prohibited from possessing a gun live in a home with firearms, rifles, and shotguns
The State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website also has additional information about how the new laws pertain to hunting and hunting education activities, which include skeet and trap shooting competitions. These activities continue to be legal under the new laws.