The phone has been ringing nonstop at John Deloca’s shooting range since the moment the Supreme Court ruling was announced.
Deloca, who owns the Seneca Sporting Range in Ridgewood, Queens, teaches classes that help people get New York City gun licenses and permits. The ruling may mean that New York concealed-carry permits – until now granted only to those who could prove they needed one for self defense – will now be more broadly available.
Suddenly, everyone seemed to want one.
“I go, ‘Don’t even apply. You can’t apply right now,’” Deloca said, noting that city and state leaders will likely need to work out many legal questions before the NYPD starts issuing revised concealed carry permits. “They don’t even know what’s going on.”
Across the city, many gun owners celebrated the Supreme Court order, which offers broad new protections to New Yorkers and their Second Amendment rights. But their enthusiasm was tempered with caution — both around a proliferation of guns as well as lawmakers' attempts to limit the effects of the ruling.
Michael Roccos, a friend of Deloca’s who was at the range after the Thursday announcement, said he comes for target shooting. He doesn’t have a license to carry on the street. But with the new court ruling, he plans to get one.
“I personally was attacked two times recently by clearly mentally deranged people,” Roccos said. “I was able to run away. My legs are still good. But I have a knee problem. Some day I will not be able to run, and I’m worried what to do.”
Jimmy Sim, a longtime Lower East Side resident who keeps guns in New Hampshire, said he had applied for a concealed carry permit from the NYPD decades ago — and was immediately rejected. Still, he said the ruling left him with mixed feelings. He urged New York lawmakers to pass legislation, such as requiring gun owners to store their firearms in a locked safe when not carrying them, that would cut down on the risk of shootings.
“My chances are more likely that I would get one now, and I would consider it,” Sim said. “But I really hope the people who do get them are responsible gun owners and the only ones with access.”
Deloca, who also goes by “Johnny Guns,” said he doesn’t expect the ruling to increase gun carrying all that much in New York.
“It’s not going to be a million, eight million people,” Deloca said. “We’re going to be lucky if we have 500,000. There’s going to be strict restrictions.”
Some people will be ineligible because of their criminal history, he predicted, while others will likely be barred because of mental illness or drug use. More will merely be unable to afford the fees, he said.
Deloca only wants people who are trained and responsible to carry guns. He thinks it’s important for people to arm themselves for an emergency, just like they prepare for a fire.
“We have fire extinguishers on the wall. Thank God we never use them. But we have them if ... need be, at the ready,” he said.
The Legislature's absolutely not going to just let this slide.
Jacob Rieper, who runs the pro-Second Amendment blog Gun Politics New York, said in the short term he expects gun owners to face more restrictions, as lawmakers scramble to pass new legislation to regulate permits.
"The Legislature's absolutely not going to just let this slide," he said. "They're going to throw as much up against the wall as possible to see what sticks."
But Rieper expects those attempts to make their way to the Supreme Court, too. And when they do, he thinks the justices will rule in his favor. He also thinks the decision could help nudge along bills in Congress that would ease gun carrying rules — both for New York residents and out-of-towners.
"I think this case is going to help move legislation at the federal level that's going to force New York to become more like the rest of the country," Rieper said.
Ruling stokes fear across the street
Not everyone in the neighborhood was excited about Thursday’s decision. At P.S. 239, across the street from Deloca’s range, some people picking up their kids in the elementary school carpool line were nervous about the possibility of more guns on the streets.
Miguel Cosme thinks that only law enforcement should be allowed to carry firearms. Several of his family members are current or former officers. For everyone else, he said, having guns around poses too much of a risk.
“I don’t think that you should just be able to buy guns to protect your family. There are other ways of protecting yourself,” he said, while waiting to pick up his grandson from school. “You can always call the police. You know, let them take care of it.”
Cosme said he’s worried about the recent uptick in violent crime and fears it could get even worse with easier access to firearms. He’s especially concerned that kids will get their hands on guns, if their parents don’t store them properly.
Ofelia Palacios, who was picking her 6- and 8-year-old up from school, agreed.
She said she teaches her own kids to take guns seriously. With the new Supreme Court ruling, she’ll be warning them to take extra precautions for their safety.
“Look to the side, look at who’s following you,” she said in Spanish. “They have to be more attentive of everything, of every move, of every action.”
Jake Offenhartz contributed reporting.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Jacob Rieper's name on two references.