New York

Hochul Blasts ‘Outrageous' SCOTUS Ruling on NY Gun Permit Law: What Leaders and the Public Say

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The Supreme Court struck down a New York gun law in a ruling Thursday that is expected to directly impact half a dozen other populous states

In a 6-3 decision by the court's conservative majority, the justices ruled in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen that requiring people to demonstrate a particular need for carrying a gun in order to get a license to carry one in public violated the Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.”

Reaction to the early Thursday morning court decision was swift among local and state officials, as well as organizations.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said that the state is reviewing options "including calling a special session of the legislature."

Hochul, a Democrat, said the the decision is "outrageous" particularly during a "national reckoning on gun violence."

She went on to say that by making the decision, the Supreme Court justices were "setting back this nation in our ability to protect our citizens."

"We do not need people entering our subways our movie theaters, our restaurants, with concealed weapons," the governor said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, who has been grappling with an increase of gun violence in the city adn who testified before Congress over the gun violence epidemic in the country, said the decision will "put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence.

Adams' full statement reads: “Put simply, this Supreme Court ruling will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence. We have been preparing for this decision and will continue to do everything possible to work with our federal, state, and local partners to protect our city. Those efforts will include a comprehensive review of our approach to defining ‘sensitive locations’ where carrying a gun is banned, and reviewing our application process to ensure that only those who are fully qualified can obtain a carry license. We will work together to mitigate the risks this decision will create once it is implemented, as we cannot allow New York to become the Wild West.

“One thing is certain: We will do whatever is in our power, using every resource available to ensure that the gains we’ve seen during this administration are not undone, to make certain New Yorkers are not put in further danger of gun violence. This decision may have opened an additional river feeding the sea of gun violence, but we will do everything we can to dam it.”

Adams went on to say that "we cannot allow New York to become the wild wild west. That is unacceptable." He added that "on a scale of one to 10, its very close to a 10."

New York Attorney General Letitia James described the ruling as "disappointing" and said the law that was struck down by the Court "protected New Yorkers from harm by ensuring that there are reasonable and appropriate regulations for guns in public spaces " for more than a century.

“The Supreme Court made its decision, but the fight to protect American families from gun violence will march on," James said. "In the days to come, my office will be taking action to address the potential harm that this ruling may cause, and we will continue to defend the constitutionality of our state’s laws, as we’ve always done. We will work with the Governor and Legislature to amend our licensing statute that will continue to protect New Yorkers."

James said her office will continue to fight for the protection of New Yorkers and will continue to stand up against the gun lobby.

"Make no mistake: This decision will not deter us from standing up to the gun lobby and their repeated efforts to endanger New Yorkers. I vow to use the full force of my office to protect New Yorkers and American families.” 

President Joe Biden also called the decision disappointing, and one that "contradicts both common sense and the Constitution."

In his his statement following the Court's ruling, he urged states to continue to enact and "enforce commonsense laws to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence."

"Since 1911, the State of New York has required individuals who would like to carry a concealed weapon in public to show a need to do so for the purpose of self-defense and to acquire a license. More than a century later, the United States Supreme Court has chosen to strike down New York’s long-established authority to protect its citizens. This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all," the president said in a statement, adding, "in the wake of the horrific attacks in Buffalo and Uvalde, as well as the daily acts of gun violence that do not make national headlines, we must do more as a society — not less — to protect our fellow Americans."

“We respectfully disagree with the Court’s conclusion that the Second Amendment forbids New York’s reasonable requirement that individuals seeking to carry a concealed handgun must show that they need to do so for self-defense," the U.S. Department of Justice said. "The Department of Justice remains committed to saving innocent lives by enforcing and defending federal firearms laws, partnering with state, local and tribal authorities and using all legally available tools to tackle the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our communities.”

The National Rifle Association (NRA) welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, saying in a statement that the "Court affirmed that the right to bear arms does not stop at a person’s front door. This is the most significant Second Amendment ruling in more than a decade."

“This is another landmark win for constitutional freedom and the NRA,” says Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA. “The decision comes at an important time – as the Senate considers legislation that undermines Second Amendment freedom. This decision unequivocally validates the position of the NRA and should put lawmakers on notice: no law should be passed that impinges this individual freedom. It also confronts a troubling problem with the Senate legislation – underscoring that these freedoms should not be left to “unguided” discretion of state and federal officials. Second Amendment freedoms belong to the people.”

“Decades of Right-to-Carry laws all across America have proven that good men and women are not the problem," LaPierre said. "This ruling will bring life-saving justice to law-abiding Americans who have lived under unconstitutional restrictions all across our country, particularly in cities and states with revolving door criminal justice systems, no cash bail and increased opposition to law-enforcement.”

In a blog alert on its website, the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, the state’s largest and nation’s oldest firearms advocacy organization, as well as the official NRA-affiliated State Association in New York, said, "VICTORY!"

NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest public healthcare system in the country, also issued a statement on the ruling, given that staff has seen the trauma and death caused by gun violence.

“Every day our staff see the pain and death caused by guns. Today’s Supreme Court decision flies in the face of public health and common sense. As New York City’s public health care system, NYC Health + Hospitals has some of the busiest emergency departments and trauma centers in the city and the nation, and we care for far too many victims of gun violence. For years, we have worked to reduce gun violence in our communities, whether through interventions with violently injured patients at the hospital bedside, or through programming to deter acts of retaliation, support at-risk youth and stand up to violence. NYC Health + Hospitals stands committed to protecting our patients and staff from gun violence and the devastation it causes," the healthcare system said in its statement.

New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-NY) called on states to "step to protect our citizens."

"As communities grapple with the horrific massacres in Buffalo, Uvalde, Tulsa, and the over 270 other places that have experienced a mass shooting this year alone, the Supreme Court today decided that guns are more important than lives in this country. Today’s decision reinforces the fact that states must step up to protect our citizens' best interests and lead the way on necessary reform," Stewart-Cousins statement read in part.

According to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the Court's decision "severely undermines public safety not just in New York City, but around the country."

In a statement, Bragg said in part: "New York still has some of the toughest gun laws in the country on the books, and we will continue to use these statutes to hold accountable those who commit gun violence. At this very moment, my office is analyzing this ruling and crafting gun safety legislation that will take the strongest steps possible to mitigate the damage done today. Furthermore, we have already built detailed processes and put them in place to manage any litigation related to our ongoing cases. The Supreme Court may have made our work harder, but we will only redouble our efforts to develop new solutions to end the epidemic of gun violence and ensure lasting public safety.”

Saying that the public is fighting a gun violence epidemic, not only in New York, but across the nation, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said the ruling on New York's concealed carry law, "is at odds with the safety concerns in our community."

"It jeopardizes law enforcement efforts to prevent illegal gun possession and address violent crime. Local jurisdictions should determine firearm licensing requirements tailored to their own unique public safety needs, and that is what New York’s law has done for over a century.

“We are fighting a gun violence epidemic in the Bronx and across the nation. This decision makes it easier to carry firearms in public places, which will inevitably lead to more gunfire in our communities. We will work within the bounds of existing laws to stem gun violence; and we will continue to do everything we can to prosecute those who bring illegal guns to the Bronx.”

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz shared similar sentiments as fellow district attorney Clark, saying the "significantly hinders our ongoing efforts to keep New Yorkers safe from gun violence."

Staten Island (Richmond County) District Attorney Michael McMahon said that although he believes in the Constitution, he finds the SCOTUS decision "to be an egregious infringement on our right as a State to decide our laws based on our own needs and conditions."

In his statement, McMahon said: "With this decision, the Supreme Court has drastically jeopardized the safety of New Yorkers and made the job of police officers as well as all those serving in law enforcement that much more dangerous. Hindering New York’s strong gun laws, as this decision undoubtedly does, opens the floodgates for more firearms to be carried across our borders from out-of-state and puts innocent lives at risk. At a time when we are making progress in reducing shootings and violent crime, I am greatly concerned the Supreme Court’s decision will cause the gathering storm of gun violence in our City to finally break, drowning the successful work my office and the NYPD has done to bring down shootings and hold gun offenders accountable on Staten Island.

"At the same time, while I believe in our Constitution and reasonable protection of the freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights including the Second Amendment, I find the Supreme Court’s decision to be an egregious infringement on our right as a State to decide our laws based on our own needs and conditions. Permissive open carry laws have no place in a region as large and densely populated as New York, and it is unconscionable for our City and State to be subjected to a federal mandate which flies in the face of common sense and accepted law."

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling on state concealed carry permitting laws:

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, which guts state concealed carry permitting laws, is not just irresponsible, it is downright dangerous. Our nation is in the middle of a gun violence epidemic and instead of working to protect our communities, this court has made it even easier for potentially dangerous people to carry concealed handguns in public spaces.

Studies overwhelmingly show that looser restrictions on who can carry a concealed firearm in public are associated with higher rates of violent crime and homicide. So it is no surprise that law enforcement officers as well as the majority of Americans and gun owners agree, limiting concealed carry permitting laws is a recipe for disaster.

We need to act and we need to act now. And Congress must move swiftly to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation and ensure only those who are trained and trustworthy are allowed to carry loaded firearms.

It’s time we did what it takes to stop the rise of gun violence. The lives of our friends, our law enforcement officers, and our children are at stake.”  

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, described the ruling as "wildly out of step with the American public."

“The Supreme Court’s sweeping decision striking down New York’s 100-year-old gun permitting law is not only wrong but wildly out of step with the American public, who overwhelmingly support common sense gun safety laws. This decision undermines public safety and makes our communities less safe," Booker said in a statement.

“Following the disastrous and wrongly decided Heller decision by throwing out a century-old law that has stood the test of time and legal challenge is just the latest example of the Supreme Court’s activist conservative majority imposing its ideology on the American people, further contributing to the Court’s crisis of legitimacy.

“This decision also directly threatens New Jersey’s gun permitting law that helps protect the people of my state and the United States from gun violence and burdens future state efforts to do the same.”

Former U.S. Attorney for the South District of New York, Preet Bharara, simply tweeted: "SCOTUS read neither the room nor the Constitution correctly."

New York State Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D-NY) issued a statement which read in part: "New York knows how to defend itself from a federal government unable or unwilling to protect us. We've done it before and we'll do it again."

Myrie went on to say that the decision "by the Court leaves New York less safe by removing common-sense restrictions on gun possession."

"In the midst of the if a nationwide surge in gun violence -- mass shootings that make the front page and daily tragedies that don't -- it's clear we need more, not fewer, barriers between deadly weapons and the people intent on violence. This ruling has the very real potential to make guns as commonplace as iPhones on our streets, parks and subways," his statement read in part.

“I am deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision, which removes an important barrier to gun violence that had existed in our state for over a century. There is an abundance of evidence that the proliferation of firearms results in more violent crime, and putting more guns on New York’s streets will only make it easier for criminals to get their hands on them. Requiring a proper cause for concealed carry is an overwhelmingly popular policy. We will explore ways to adjust our laws within the scope of today’s decision in order to keep New Yorkers safe,” New York State Senator Sean Ryan (D- NY) said in a statement following the SCOTUS decision.

Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who signed onto the amicus brief in support of the case before the Supreme Court, announced his support over the ruling.

“The Supreme Court’s decision marks a historic, proper, and necessary victory for law abiding citizens of New York, whose Second Amendment rights have been under constant attack. It reaffirms their inherent right to safely and securely carry to protect themselves, their families and their loved ones, and the principle that this Constitutional right shall not be infringed," Zeldin, who is running for New York governor, said.

"The Supreme Court got it right," Former Westchester County Executive and Republican gubernatorial candidate, Rob Astorino, said.

Andrew Giuliani, a Republican gubernatorial candidate and son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, said in a statement: “The Supreme Court upheld the Second Amendment today, and therefore protected the rights of law-abiding New Yorkers to protect themselves. The answer to violent crime lies in empowering law enforcement and NOT infringing on our rights as Americans.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy shared his views on the SCOTUS ruling, calling it the outcome a result of "a deeply flawed constitutional methodology."

“Based on a deeply flawed constitutional methodology, a right-wing majority on the United States Supreme Court has just said that states can no longer decide for ourselves how best to limit the proliferation of firearms in the public sphere," Murphy said. "Let there be no mistake – this dangerous decision will make America a less safe country.  “But let me be equally clear that, here in New Jersey, we will do everything in our power to protect our residents. Anticipating this decision, my Administration has been closely reviewing options we believe are still available to us regarding who can carry concealed weapons and where they can carry them. We are carefully reviewing the Court’s language and will work to ensure that our gun safety laws are as strong as possible while remaining consistent with this tragic ruling.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, also reacted to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen.

“This Supreme Court decision will not prevent Connecticut from enforcing its responsible gun ownership laws," Lamont said in a statement. "As a matter of fact, the court specifically distinguished our approach when it comes to the issuance of permits and tools for law enforcement to keep firearms out of the hands of those who may do harm. However, we should all be concerned that today’s ruling heralds a newly aggressive effort to second-guess commonsense state and local policies that save lives while accommodating both gun rights and gun safety. One thing we know is true – more guns do not make us safer, and as governor I will continue to pursue policies that make our laws stronger to keep our residents out of harm’s way.”

The New York State Bar Association also decried the court decision calling it "delivered an ill-conceived decision that will set us back decades and further threaten public safety."

As the nation reels in the wake of the Texas and Buffalo mass shootings and urban centers across the country struggle to contain an epidemic of gun violence, the U.S. Supreme Court has delivered an ill-conceived decision that will set us back decades and further threaten public safety.

New York’s commonsense and century-old law on concealed carry permits struck an appropriate balance between preserving Second Amendment rights and preventing weapons from being procured by those who should not have them. The reality is that most gun permits were, in fact, granted even under the requirement that an individual establish proper cause to obtain a license.
  New York’s elected officials must come up with new laws and regulations to make sure that incidents of gun violence do not rise because of this ruling.  

For its part, the Legal Aid Society, said that gun licensing regulations in the state "have been arbitrarily and discriminatorily applied, disproportionately ensnaring the people we represent, the majority of whom are from communities of color, in the criminal legal system" and that the "decision may be an affirmative step toward ending arbitrary licensing standards that have inhibited lawful Black and Brown gun ownership in New York." 

"In this moment and always, we must honor and remember people who have lost their lives to gun violence - the overwhelmingly majority of whom are from BIPOC communities. We must also name the white supremacist and anti-democratic agenda of the gun lobby and the NRA and the hate-filled tragedies that have taken the lives of so many in Buffalo and across this country," the organization said in a statement.

Additionally, the organization went on to say that lawmakers must think about the next steps they should take but not "reproduce a regulatory scheme that perpetuates the same disparate outcomes yielded under the previous law or further criminalize gun ownership. Criminalization has never prevented violence and serves only to further marginalize and incarcerate people from BIPOC communities."

In its statement, the Legal Aid Society concluded: "The solution to public safety challenges can be found in the proven success of community-based, public-health models such as New York City’s Crisis Management System and Cure Violence initiative. Community investment must lead this conversation, not proposals that harken back to an era that fueled mass incarceration and made our communities less safe. New York must find a way forward that will promote true public safety, while preserving the constitutional rights of all citizens.”

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the decision "another devastating setback in out fight against gun violence and it only underscores the need for bolder gun reforms on the national level.  Because of this ruling, we’re now back to where we were in 1910, but it doesn’t have to remain this way. Not only should combatting this decision be part of any final gun package before Congress, but so should assault weapon and high capacity magazine bans."

Cuomo went on to say that "the American people have already suffered too much."

News 4 asked individuals in New York City what they thought of the ruling. Here is what they said:

"Anyone could shoot me with an assault rifle at any time. It [the ruling] doesn’t change that,” a Kentucky resident visiting New York City who wished to remain anonymous, said.

"You should be able to conceal," Daniel, from New York, said, adding that he doesn't mind the ruling either way.

Meanwhile Kevin, who is visiting from Toronto, said that he disagrees with the decision.

"I felt uncomfortable even before it was overturned," Aimee Hall, another New Yorker, said. “The law doesn’t do much. If people want to carry, they’ll do it regardless”

Tara and Aaron Radford, from Seattle, expressed their frustration upon hearing the ruling saying there should be stronger restrictions.

"For f---- sake!," Tara said, adding it should be harder to get a gun. “Why is it harder to get an abortion than to get a gun?”

"I don’t care if you have a gun, but you should have the proper training and know how to safely handle it," Tara said, something that Aaron agreed with.

Aaron also said that there should be stronger restrictions in place.

Meanwhile, Arjun, from California, said, "They need to figure out the background check situation."

Safa Thameem, from Illinois, also said that "there should be stronger restrictions.”

“Guns should only be purchased for hunting or a hobby, not for anything else,” Thameem said.

Nurse Greg Renna, from Missouri, said that treating patients is not easy.

"We don't need guns to hurt more people," Renna said.

Retired nurse Jeanne Renna, also from Missouri, said, “Someone once asked me if I would shoot to kill. My answer was never say never. For people that say they wouldn’t, you never know how mad you can get. You never know what situation you might face.”

Minnesota resident Melissa Preteau said her husband has a gun and she supports conceal and carry.

Patrick Schieszer, from Missouri, shared similar sentiments saying the ruling was "absolutely terrible."

“There’s too much gun violence," Schieszer said. "There needs to be more restrictions...They take away rights from people and then only give rights to certain people.

"We don’t need to live like this, and we shouldn’t have to die like this.”

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