Starting Thursday, gun owners will not be allowed to carry their firearms into a wide swath of facilities designated as “sensitive” locations in New York, including most health care centers, restaurants, mass transit and even Times Square.
The bulk of the state’s recently passed Concealed Carry Improvement Act takes effect on Thursday, implementing a series of more-extensive requirements to obtain a permit to legally carry a weapon in public.
The law, approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in July, came in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision tossing New York’s previous century-old policy, which only allowed a concealed carry permit if the gun owner could prove they had “proper cause” for one — such as a specific reason they needed to carry a firearm for self defense.
Listen to WNYC Albany reporter Jon Campbell break down the bulk of the state's newest gun laws set to take effect Thursday:
Now, gun owners can apply for a concealed carry permit without such restrictions. But the new state law will severely restrict where they can carry a weapon, banning them in dozens of places such as playgrounds, parks, schools, theaters and other performance venues, including stadiums and arenas. (There are exceptions for law enforcement and military personnel, according to the law.)
“That (Supreme Court) decision wasn’t just negligent, it was reprehensible,” Hochul said at a Manhattan news conference Wednesday, where she outlined the soon-to-take-effect laws with Mayor Eric Adams, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell.
Also taking effect Thursday are a series of changes to the state’s pistol permitting process, with new applicants required to undergo a new training regimen — which includes 16 hours in a classroom and two hours of live firing — and to identify all of their social media accounts from the last three years.
Those new requirements will also apply to permit holders renewing their licenses in New York City, Westchester and on Long Island, where concealed carry permits expire every three years. Outside those areas, permit holders will have to recertify their license every three years — but they won’t have to take the safety course each time, according to State Police.
Under the law, firearms are presumed to be prohibited in privately owned businesses and spaces unless the owner proactively puts a sign at the entrance saying guns are allowed on premises.
“I never thought from watching cowboy movies as a child — ‘Leave your gun at the door’ — that it would become a reality in the state of New York,” Mayor Adams said.
I never thought from watching cowboy movies as a child — ‘Leave your gun at the door’ — that it would become a reality in the state of New York
The mayor said the city will launch a series of public service announcements and has posted a series of signs around Times Square “informing people that it is a gun-free zone.”
“Think about that — we have to actually say that in our city,” Mayor Adams said. “We have to say that it’s a gun-free zone.”
Another part of the new law will take effect on Sunday, requiring anyone in New York acquiring a semi-automatic rifle after that date to apply for a license. That will have the effect of raising the minimum age to purchase such a gun from 18 to 21. (New York City had already required a license for all rifles and shotguns, even before the new state law.)
The state will also create a new appeals board to hear challenges from those who see their gun permit applications denied. That part of the law will take effect April 1, 2023.
The new state laws are expected to face numerous court challenges, including a lawsuit already filed by Carl Paladino, the former gubernatorial candidate from Buffalo who lost a heated GOP primary for Congress last week.
The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association — the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court decision that invalidated the state’s prior law — has also signaled plans to sue.
Sewell, the NYPD commissioner, said the new laws and rules are designed to “properly balance the licensees’ rights with keeping our city safe, which is what we do.”
The City Council is expected to approve a bill in September that sets the parameters from the gun-free zone surrounding Times Square. It’s taking a broad approach, including the area between Eighth and Sixth Avenues from West 40th to West 53rd Street — as well as the area between Eighth and Ninth Avenues from West 40th to West 48th Street.
Speaker Adams said the city, under an emergency order from the NYPD, will apply those Times Square boundaries at the time the state law takes effect Thursday.
“If there is a reasonable suspicion to believe someone is carrying a firearm, our officers will take action,” Sewell said.
Those violating the gun-free zone will be charged with a Class E felony.
The full list of “sensitive places” where all guns will be banned as of Thursday is as follows, according to the new state law:
- Any location owned or under control of federal, state, or local government for the purpose of government administration, including courts;
- Any location providing health, behavioral health, or chemical dependence care or services;
- Places of worship or religious observation;
- Libraries, public playgrounds, public parks, and zoos;
- NYS Office of Children and Family Service licensed or funded facilities (childcare facilities);
- Nursery schools, preschools, summer camps;
- NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities licensed or funded facilities;
- NYS Office of Addiction Services and Supports licensed or funded facilities;
- NYS Office of Mental Health licensed or funded facilities;
- NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance licensed or funded facilities;
- Homeless shelters, family shelters, domestic violence shelters;
- NYS Department of Health licensed or funded residential facilities;
- Colleges, universities, private schools, public schools, and other educational institutions;
- Public transportation and transit facilities;
- Bars and restaurants serving alcohol, and on-premises cannabis consumption locations;
- Theaters, stadiums, racetracks, museums, amusement parks, performance venues, concert halls, exhibit halls, conference centers, banquet halls, gaming facilities, video lottery terminal facilities as licensed by the gaming commission;
- Polling places;
- Public sidewalks and other public areas that are restricted from general public access for a limited time or special event;
- Gatherings of people to collectively express their constitutional rights to assemble or protest;
- Times Square, as defined by the city.