Most of New York’s updated concealed carry policy took effect Thursday banning concealed weapons in many public spaces and adding new requirements for people seeking firearm licenses, after the Supreme Court struck down the state’s previous law, though the new legislation could still face legal challenges.
- New York’s enacted the Concealed Carry Improvement Act in July after the Supreme Court struck down the state’s previous concealed carry law for being overly broad.
- The new law imposes more specific requirements for concealed carry licenses, including undergoing training, providing character references, and submitting to a background check that includes providing a list of their social media accounts.
- Licenses will only be granted to people with “good moral character” and will not be issued to people who have a history of violent behavior or recent convictions for several crimes including assault, menacing, and driving while intoxicated.
- Concealed carry is outlawed in a variety of “sensitive locations”: airports, bars, restaurants serving alcohol, courthouses, daycare facilities, playgrounds, educational institutions, emergency shelters, entertainment venues, government buildings, healthcare facilities, houses of worship, libraries, polling places, public demonstrations, rallies, public transportation, and Times Square.
- Outside of those places, businesses and property owners will have to put up signage explicitly stating concealed weapons are allowed, otherwise the default will be that concealed weapons aren’t allowed on any private property where it’s not explicitly stated.
- The law also imposes new storage requirements for firearms, gives the state oversight of background checks for firearms—which means the checks will go further than the ones performed by the federal government—and expands the definition of “body vest” to include more kinds of body armor that will now be subject to regulation.
In addition to the measures taking effect on Thursday, additional parts of the legislation will take effect Sunday, which will raise the age for purchasing or possessing a semiautomatic firearm to 21 years old. The law also creates an appeals board for people whose license applications have been denied, which will take effect in April.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
Whether the laws will stand up in court. A federal judge allowed the legislation to take effect as he dismissed a lawsuit brought by gun rights advocates on Wednesday night for lack of standing—but suggested that he had issues with the law itself and could strike it down should the plaintiffs re-file the case to comply with the ruling. The Gun Owners of America, one of the plaintiffs that brought the case, said in a statement Thursday that it “looks forward[s] to continuing our efforts to fully dismantle this law,” suggesting the case will be appealed or re-filed. Another lawsuit is also pending from former gubernatorial and congressional candidate Carl Paladino, and more legal challenges are likely to be filed.
The Supreme Court struck down New York’s previous concealed carry law on June 23 in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, declaring the law was overly burdensome and violated the Fourteenth Amendment by stopping “law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs” from practicing their Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The 6-3 ruling took an expansive view of the Second Amendment, ruling the definition of the right to bear arms includes “carrying handguns publicly for self-defense,” and criticized New York’s law for being overly broad and deeming too many places as “sensitive locations” where guns can’t be carried.
New York lawmakers immediately convened a special session to pass new legislation in response to the ruling, and the Concealed Carry Improvement Act was signed into law on July 1, just over a week after Bruen was decided. While the court’s ruling focused on New York, it had further effects on any state with more restrictive concealed carry laws in place that said the state “may issue” licenses, but officers can use discretion and are not obligated to issue them to people. That includes California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey, which were forced to roll back their own policies in compliance with the ruling.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
How other states will handle their concealed carry laws in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling? Massachusetts and several local governments have passed or proposed new policies around concealed carry licenses that comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling since it was issued, and Delaware also enacted comprehensive gun control legislation a week after the court’s decision. In California, legislation to impose new firearm restrictions in line with the Bruen decision failed in the state Senate early Thursday by just one vote, but the Associated Press reports lawmakers to intend to re-introduce the bill later this year.