NY OKs bill barring guns in Times Square, requiring social media info for permit

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The New York state Senate approved sweeping legislation Friday afternoon that would ban concealed weapons from so-called “sensitive locations” like Times Square, public transit and other venues — while requiring gun permit applicants to give the state information about their social media accounts as well as character references. 

“This to me is the embodiment of what it means to be an American. In honor of our Fourth of July weekend, I look forward to signing the legislation as soon as it’s finished,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a press conference following the vote. 

The Assembly was on track to pass the bill and send it to Hochul’s desk by Friday evening.

Debate on the bill began early Friday, one day after the extraordinary legislative session called by Hochul began — a delay attributed to last-minute negotiations over a conceptual deal touted by the governor earlier in the week.

“This is a very nocturnal place,” Hochul said of the final bill language dropping in the middle of the night – par for the course in a state Capitol where legislators often get little notice before votes on controversial bills.

The special session follows a controversial US Supreme Court decision last week that struck down a century-old state law requiring permit applicants to give a “proper cause” for wanting to pack heat.

Handguns confiscated by NYC Law enforcement that were made with parts manufactured seperately and sold to individuals who put them together, called "ghost guns."
Democratic lawmakers vowed to tighten the gun permit application process following the Supreme Court decision to overturn New York’s regulation.
William Farrington

The 6-3 ruling gave states leeway to restrict guns from “sensitive” places while maintaining permitting processes that lean on objective criteria.

“We are confident that we are providing New York, again, an opportunity not only to be able to have their concealed carry, but also to make New Yorkers safe,” state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) told reporters Friday.

People commute on the subway in New York City on April 13, 2022.
Gun carriers would be barred from holding weapons in public transit areas such as the subway.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Among other information, potential firearm owners would be asked to divulge all social media accounts maintained over the past three years as well as provide references attesting to their “good moral character.”

Permit applicants will also have to complete at least 16 hours of in-person training, while private businesses will be off-limits to firearms unless their owners post conspicuous signage indicating otherwise.

Weapons will also be barred from places of worship, public transit, sports arenas, parks, libraries, government buildings, playgrounds, entertainment venues, protests and businesses that serve alcohol, among other venues.

Gov. Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed to sign the permit application legislation immediately.
Mike Groll/Office of Governor Ka
Senate Majority Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers,
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins vowed to keep “New Yorkers safe.”
AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Another provision of the bill expands a newly implemented ban on bullet-resistant body vests to include body armor like that used by a racist gunman as he targeted black shoppers at a Buffalo supermarket May 14.

Future ammunition purchases will require background checks in the future under the new law, with information on the buyer’s “date, name,  age,  occupation and residence” entered into a state database, according to the legislation.

While expressing confidence in the constitutionality of the new gun law, Albany Democrats said they nonetheless expect plenty of legal challenges from pro-gun groups.

Hochul is expected to sign the legislation soon after it passes both chambers of the Legislature, but Albany Democrats expect plenty of legal challenges from pro-gun groups.

“They didn’t just go up to the line. They trampled on the Supreme Court decision,” said Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case.  

Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed to sign the permit application legislation immediately.
Gun permit holders will not be allowed to possess weapons in Times Square.
Christopher Sadowski
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx,
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie argued Albany lawmakers still have authority on how gun permits are issued.
AP Photo/Hans Pennink

“The Supreme Court did say you can still have criteria as to how [permits] are issued,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) told reporters Friday. “And so we believe that that falls in line with what we’re allowed to do.”

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