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Hochul vows special session to address high court's decision to end NY's concealed weapons limits

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul holds up the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the state's laws restricting the carrying of a concealed weapon, on June 23, 2022.
Kevin P. Coughlin
Gov. Kathy Hochul's office
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul holds up the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the state's laws restricting the carrying of a concealed weapon, on June 23, 2022.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, saying it is a “deeply disturbing day,” vowed to hold a special session in July to create new laws that she said are needed to protect New Yorkers.

The case, brought by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, took issue with the state's laws, which have been on the books since the early 1900s. The laws made it a crime to possess a firearm without a license and required anyone who wanted to carry a concealed firearm outside the home to obtain an additional permit. They could only receive one if they could prove that “proper cause exists” for them to carry the weapon.

The opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, finds that the law violates the U.S. Constitution and prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.

Hochul, speaking moments after the ruling, called it deeply disturbing. She said it puts the safety of “millions of New Yorkers” at risk.

“This decision isn’t just reckless, it’s reprehensible,” Hochul said. “It’s not what New Yorkers want. And we should have the right of determination of what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state.”

A recent poll found that three-quarters of New Yorkers, including the majority of gun owners, wanted the Supreme Court to uphold the law.

Hochul condemned what she called the “insanity of gun culture” that has now reached even the Supreme Court. She said the timing is especially painful, when people in Buffalo are grieving over a mass shooting in May that killed 10 people at a supermarket in a predominately African American neighborhood.

She said her staff attorneys are working with leaders of the Legislature to craft a remedy to the decision, and she said she will be calling the Legislature back into session in the coming weeks to address the issue.

“We are not powerless,” Hochul said.

Hochul said the details are still being worked out. But she said options include placing many public spaces, like schools and subways, off-limits for carrying a concealed weapon and making it the default position of all private businesses to ban the carrying of guns. Businesses would be permitted to allow the carrying of concealed weapons on their property if they wished to.

Hochul also said the state could create a new permitting system for carrying a concealed weapon.

“We are also going to create a higher threshold for those who want to receive a concealed carry permit,” Hochul said. “We are going to require that they have specific firearm training.”

The decision came as Hochul held a ceremony to sign a measure known as Alyssa’s Law. It requires school districts to consider installing panic alarms so that school officials and students can immediately alert police if there’s a life-threatening incident, including a mass shooting, at their school.

The law is named for Alyssa Alhadeff, a 14-year-old who was killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in 2018.

And it comes just a few weeks after Hochul and the Legislature approved a number of gun safety laws, including banning anyone younger than 21 from buying a semi-automatic rifle and strengthening the state’s red flag laws.

The state’s Conservative Party praised the Supreme Court’s decision, saying in a statement that it’s a “step in the right direction for millions of Americans who’ve been arbitrarily denied their constitutional right to self-protection for decades,” and that the ruling will “give law-abiding New Yorkers the option of protecting themselves with a firearm in a state with significant crime issues.”

Nick Langworthy, the chair of the state’s Republican Party and a candidate for Congress, also weighed in.

“Bravo,” Langworthy said. "Today’s Supreme Court ruling is exactly as it should be — a final authority that protects the constitutional rights of citizens against a dictatorial government.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for the New York Public News Network, composed of a dozen newsrooms across the state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.