New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) ripped into the Supreme Court moments after it struck down a century-old state gun control law on Thursday, saying the “absolutely shocking” decision was “frightful in its scope” and “could place millions of New Yorkers in harm’s way.”
“If the federal government will not have sweeping laws to protect us, then our states and our governors have a moral responsibility to do what we can and have laws that protect our citizens because of what is going on ― the insanity of the gun culture that has now possessed everyone all the way up to even to the Supreme Court,” she said at an event.
The governor pledged to do what she could to preserve limitations on concealed carry permits after the high court ruled that New York’s law was too restrictive.
Most states ― 43 by the Supreme Court’s count ― require licenses to lawfully carry a concealed firearm in public; New York was among a handful that did not have to issue a license to anyone who requested one. Rather, a person had to prove why their need for protection outside of the home was greater than that of the general population.
States with such heightened restrictions covered roughly one-quarter of the U.S. population. Those laws are now in legal jeopardy.
State officials were aware of this potential outcome in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, Hochul said, and have been working with legal experts from “all over this country” to develop a plan.
Manhattan Attorney General Alvin Bragg concurred. “At this very moment, my office is analyzing this ruling and crafting gun safety legislation that will take the strongest steps possible to mitigate the damage done today,” Bragg said in a statement.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) also highlighted the planning efforts in a tweet stating that the ruling “will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence.” Two subway shootings have unfolded in the city in recent months.
Hochul floated several possibilities, including placing restrictions on carrying concealed guns within “sensitive” locations and mandating gun safety training.
While the Supreme Court has upheld the idea that guns may be banned in sensitive places like schools and government buildings, it rejected the state’s argument in Bruen that large swaths of public space could be considered sensitive.
“Respondents’ attempt to characterize New York’s proper-cause requirement as a ‘sensitive-place’ law lacks merit because there is no historical basis for New York to effectively declare the island of Manhattan a ‘sensitive place’ simply because it is crowded and protected generally by the New York City Police Department,” the court said.
The court declined to “comprehensively define” the term “sensitive places” in an opinion written by conservative Justice Clarence Thomas. Instead, states should look for historical analogues to determine whether a law is constitutional or not, he said.
Justice Stephen Breyer criticized that idea, asking in his dissent, “So where does that leave the many locations in a modern city with no obvious 18th- or 19th-century analogue? What about subways, nightclubs, movie theaters, and sports stadiums?”
He went on: “I fear that it will often prove difficult to identify analogous technological and social problems from Medieval England, the founding era, or the time period in which the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified.”
Hochul made her comments at bill-signing event for legislation enacted in the wake of the mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo by an alleged white supremacist. She lamented how the court’s decision came down just weeks after the mass shooting in Buffalo and another in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 people dead, including 19 children.
“I’m sorry this dark day has come ― that we’re supposed to go back to what was in place since 1788 when the Constitution of United States America was ratified. And I would like to point out to the Supreme Court justices that the only weapons at that time were muskets,” Hochul said.
“I’m prepared to go back to muskets,” she added.