New NYC Mayor: Supreme Court Gun Ruling Could Be 'Recipe For Disaster'

Friday, November 5, 2021 - 7:41am

New York State has one of the nation's most restrictive gun laws, sharply limiting people's ability to carry weapons outside their homes. Questioning from Supreme Court justices this week suggested that the law could soon be declared unconstitutional, upending the way the state regulates firearms at a time when many of its cities are experiencing gun violence crisis. If the justices invalidate the law, experts say it is likely that New York will have to replace its current law with a less restrictive one that would allow more people to carry guns in public, reports the New York Times.

"We are likely to see New York be forced to rewrite its law," said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. "We'll have to wait until we see the court's opinion before we know what's constitutionally permissible."

The case involves two petitioners from upstate New York, Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, both of whom had sought unrestricted licenses to carry handguns. Both received restricted licenses allowing them to carry firearms for the specific purpose of hunting and target shooting, and Koch was allowed to carry a gun to and from work.

They were barred from unrestricted licensees because they did not meet New York's standard of "proper cause," which requires that a person demonstrate a heightened need to carry a handgun for self-defense.

Their lawyers have argued that the restrictions were unconstitutional based on two relatively recent decisions made by the court that have reframed the way the Second Amendment is interpreted. The court now holds that the amendment protects an individual's right to have a gun for certain purposes, including self-defense.

Joseph Blocher, a Second Amendment expert at Duke University School of Law, said that a number of different outcomes were possible if the court were to overturn the New York law.

In one scenario, New York could retain a degree of discretion over who receives a license to carry a concealed handgun, but would be compelled to lower its standards.

In another, New York and states with similar laws might simply have to grant licenses to carry handguns to all applicants who meet a certain set of yet to be determined criteria, as is true in a number of other states.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "It's a little surreal that we have justices ... suggesting that it would be great to have more and more people armed walking the streets of the city."

The ruling is expected to come down after Eric Adams replaces de Blasio as mayor. Adams, who emphasized public safety as key to the city's recovery during his campaign, said that limiting the state's ability to regulate firearms "is a recipe for disaster."

"We need fewer people carrying guns — not more — and the ability to keep our streets safe preserved, not reversed," he said. "If this law is eliminated in New York, police departments in New York City and across the state will have to immediately prepare for more shootings and need additional resources to prevent them."

Gov. Kathy Hochul said in an interview with NY1 on Thursday that she believed gun owners had rights, "but those rights do not include walking around with a hidden gun."

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