Gov. Hochul proposes changes to New York's concealed carry laws
NEW YORK - Governor Kathy Hochul is proposing changes to New York's new concealed carry law that would allow for armed security guards outside houses of worship and exempt retired police officers from the law.
Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the state’s century-old concealed carry law stating that it was too restrictive.
In response, New York State lawmakers passed the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, which designated "sensitive locations" where firearms are banned including Times Square and public transportation. It also requires applicants to prove that they are of "good moral character."
But some argue that these tweaks being proposed don’t go quite far enough.
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According to the NYPD, antisemitic hate crimes have more than doubled in November 2022 from November 2021, a 125% spike.
Alan Mindel, Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County says they have had to spend thousands on upgrading their security.
"We have an event this weekend at Lake Success Jewish center with a choir and we are thankful that the Lake Success police are going to be providing security for the event, without which I'm not sure it would be safe," Mindel explained.
Right now under the state’s new concealed carry improvement act, places of worship are considered "sensitive locations" where firearms are banned.
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Security guards can be armed outside the place of worship, but technically this law does not specify that they can be hired.
Hochul wants to change this, but Mindel worries this might not be enough.
"It’s unaffordable really for these institutions to provide this security," Mindel said. "And unfortunately, it's not fair to ask police to constantly provide the security that today, these institutions require. "We have to be willing to allow people, ordinary citizens, to bring guns into these houses of worship for the sole purpose of protecting those that are participating in events."
Hochul wants to make another tweak by allowing retired law enforcement officers to be exempt from the concealed carry laws.
Paul Digiacomo, President of the Detectives’ Endowment Association says even retired officers still face threats of violence.
"The uptick in crime is because of the illegal guns on the street, not the legal guns on the street," Digiacomo explained. "But New York City detectives that carry their guns, whether active or retired, it adds another layer of safety to the people of this city and state."
There are numerous lawsuits challenging the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, including one brought forward by the Gun Owners of America-NY.
A federal judge last August ruled in favor of the organization, saying that the new concealed carry law is unconstitutional. The New York Attorney General’s office is currently appealing the decision.
In a statement the Senior VP of GOA, Erich Pratt, wrote "Kathy Hochul knows this law blatantly violates the Second Amendment and the Bruen precedent, and in turn, she hopes that some of these changes will prevent the courts from striking it down like they are already indicating is imminent. Instead of half-baked measures, she would be wise to come to terms with the state's overreach and encourage the legislature to repeal this law and in turn save millions in legal fees, which will be paid for by her taxpayers."
In a separate case, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms argue that the restrictions on firearms in places of worship are a violation of civil rights.
"I think what we're seeing now with the governor's budget initiative trying to put that proposal in there is this quiet acknowledgement that the houses of worship were right all along," Executive Director for New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms Jason J. McGuire said.
There are some other tweaks to the law Hochul wants to work out in the budget, including clarifying that firearms are allowed at military ceremonies, funerals and on movie production sets.
She also wants firearms to be allowed in the Adirondack and Catskill state parks.