(AP) — Amid the bright lights and electronic billboards across New York’s Times Square, city authorities are posting new signs proclaiming the bustling crossroads a “Gun Free Zone.”
The sprawling Manhattan tourist attraction is one of scores of “sensitive” places — including parks, churches and theaters — that will be off limits for guns under a sweeping new state law going into effect Thursday. The measure, passed after a US Supreme Court decision in June expanded gun rights, also sets stringent standards for issuing concealed carry permits.
New York is among a half-dozen states that had key provisions of its gun laws invalidated by the high court because of a requirement for applicants to prove they had “proper cause” for a permit. Governor Kathy Hochul said Friday that she and her fellow Democrats in the state Legislature took action the next week because the ruling “destroyed the ability for a governor to be able to protect her citizens from people who carry concealed weapons anywhere they choose.”
The quickly adopted law, however, has led to confusion and court challenges from gun owners who say it improperly limits their constitutional rights.
“They seem to be designed less towards addressing gun violence and more towards simply preventing people from getting guns — even if those people are law-abiding, upstanding citizens, who according to the Supreme Court have the rights to have them,” said Jonathan Corbett, a Brooklyn attorney and permit applicant who is one of several people challenging the law in court.
In Rochester, Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said it currently takes two to four hours to perform a pistol permit background check on a “clean” candidate. He estimates the new law will add another one to three hours for each permit. The county has about 600 pending pistol permits.
“It’s going to slow everything down just a bit more,” he said.
In the Mohawk Valley, Fulton County Sheriff Richard C Giardino had questions on how the digital sleuthing would proceed.
“It says three years worth of your social media. We’re not going to print out three years of social media posts by everybody. If you look at my Facebook, I send out six or 10 things a day,” said the sheriff, a former district attorney and judge.
The list of prohibited spaces for carrying guns has drawn criticism from advocates who say it’s so extensive it will make it difficult for people with permits to move about in public. People carrying a gun could go into private business only with permission, such as a sign posted on the window.
New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said Tuesday she looked forward to seeing authorities move to “protect New Yorkers and visitors who frequent Times Square.”