New York lawmakers passed a bill banning guns in Times Square, the subway system and dozens of other public places on Friday in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent concealed carry decision. Moments after the bill passed, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed it into law.
The state Legislature passed the measure as part of a gun bill Friday, hours after Hochul introduced it around 3 a.m. that day. The state Senate voted 43-20 along party lines. The Assembly later cast a 91-51 vote in favor of the bill.
Last week, Hochul summoned the Legislature back to Albany for an extraordinary session Thursday with the goal of passing measures meant to dull the impact of the court’s ruling last week, which made it easier to obtain a permit to legally carry a firearm in public. The new law will essentially serve as a countermeasure to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
"A week ago, the Supreme Court issued a reckless decision removing century-old limitations on who is allowed to carry concealed weapons in our state — senselessly sending us backward and putting the safety of our residents in jeopardy," Hochul said in a written statement. "Today, we are taking swift and bold action to protect New Yorkers. After a close review of the NYSRPA vs. Bruen decision and extensive discussions with constitutional and policy experts, advocates, and legislative partners, I am proud to sign this landmark legislative package that will strengthen our gun laws and bolster restrictions on concealed carry weapons."
But things didn’t go quite as planned: Hochul and legislative leaders spent much of the day haggling over the specifics. By 1 a.m. on Friday, the state Senate called it quits, the Assembly followed suit, and they agreed to give it another go Friday. Less than two hours later, Hochul formally introduced the Concealed Carry Improvement Act – signaling a deal had been finalized. Among other things, it will create a lengthy list of places where firearms are banned, including public transit, educational institutions, street fairs and “the area commonly known as Times Square,” according to the bill.
"It’s crucial to the recovery of our local economy, including Broadway, that Times Square be a gun-free zone and that its 50 million annual visitors feel safe from the dangers of gun violence," said state Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat whose district includes Times Square.
In his written opinion, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledged that states can ban guns in “sensitive places” like government buildings and schools. But the list of sensitive places in New York’s new gun bill seems to take an expansive view.
Guns will be banned in zoos, libraries, playgrounds, child care and health care facilities. They will also be prohibited in homeless shelters, bars and a wide array of performance venues, including theaters, stadiums, racetracks, museums, amusement parks, casinos and any concerts.
Asked Wednesday if there were any public places where carrying a firearm will still be allowed, Hochul said: “Probably some streets.”
Hochul and Democratic leaders say they have tried to craft the concealed carry bill in a way that will withstand further judicial scrutiny, though gun-rights groups are certain to challenge some or all of the restrictions. On Wednesday, Hochul said she is willing to “go up to the line” of constitutionality but not cross it.
Most sections of the Concealed Carry Improvement Act take effect Sept. 1, with the others taking effect April 1, 2023.
The law will also allow the state to alter its permitting laws to require at least 16 hours of training for concealed carry applicants, while making clear an applicant could be denied if they have been charged with assault, menacing or similar crimes. The law will also require a permit holder to recertify every three years, down from five years, and to turn over the names of their social media accounts as part of a background check.
The law also makes it a felony to carry a firearm onto private property unless the property owner has explicitly allowed it. For business owners, that means hanging signage signaling concealed carry is allowed on the property.
On Friday, the state Legislature also began the process of enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution, with the Senate voting 49-14 in favor of it followed by the Assembly, which approved the measure 98-43 Friday evening. The measure will come before the state Legislature next year, where it will have to pass once again. If approved by lawmakers next year, the constitutional measure would then be put to voters for final approval as early as late next year.
Democratic lawmakers had tried to pass a measure known as the Equality Amendment in early June before ending their annual session at the Capitol. If approved by voters, it would have created greater protections against discrimination based on things like sex, gender identity and pregnancy outcomes. Talks on the amendment stalled, and lawmakers left Albany without taking it up. But they revived negotiations after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week, and ultimately finalized an agreement overnight.
The agreed-upon amendment would make clear you can’t discriminate against someone based on their ethnicity, national origin, age, disability or sex, adding to existing protections based on race, color or creed.
The amendment makes clear it would apply to “pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes, and reproductive healthcare and autonomy” — language meant to cover abortion and contraception.
The Senate returned to session around 11:30 a.m. Friday, quickly approving the abortion-related amendment before beginning debate on the gun bill.
This story has been updated to reflect that the measures were passed along with additional comment.