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New York lawmakers are set to pass sweeping legislation 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.
Debate on the bill began in the state Senate early Friday, one day after the extraordinary legislative session called by Gov. Kathy Hochul began — a delay attributed to last-minute negotiations over a conceptual deal touted by the governor earlier in the week.
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.
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.
Among other information, potential firearm owners would be asked to disclose all social media accounts maintained over the past three years as well as provide references attesting to their “good moral character.”
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.
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.
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.
“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.”