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Hochul has a plan to restrict concealed weapons in response to U.S. Supreme Court's decision

June 29, 2022 - East Greenbush, NY - Governor Kathy Hochul delivers remarks following a meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns in East Greenbush. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)
June 29, 2022 - East Greenbush, NY - Governor Kathy Hochul delivers remarks following a meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns in East Greenbush. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who scored a resounding win in Tuesday’s primary, is not stopping to savor her victory.

On Wednesday, she outlined her plan for a Thursday special session of the Legislature to address the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down New York’s restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon.

Hochul said she’s still working on details with the Senate and Assembly, but she said the state’s new regulations will include several “sensitive” locations that would be off-limits to concealed handguns, including schools, government buildings, public transit, parks, hospitals, and public gatherings of more than 100 people.

She said for all private property and businesses, the default position would be that concealed weapons are not permitted. The owner of the business or land would have to post a sign specifically stating that concealed weapons are permissible. Hochul said it would give New Yorkers peace of mind when they leave their homes.

“That they don’t have to worry about someone being right there next to them, having a weapon, whereas before they would not have a right to be there,” Hochul said.

But she conceded that after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York’s 100-year-old law on limiting the carrying of concealed weapons, she can’t restrict access everywhere, and she anticipates there will be more weapons on the streets in the future.

She said Justice Clarence Thomas said in his opinion that an urban area, like the borough of Manhattan, could not be considered entirely off-limits to concealed weapons. But she said the national legal experts she’s been working with believe the state still has some powers of regulation.

“I will go right up to the line. I will not cross the line,” Hochul said.

Other measures would make it more difficult to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. A background check would include a search for a history of dangerous behavior or mental health problems, and background checks would be required for purchasing ammunition. Fifteen hours of in-person firearm safety training would be required, and safe storage rules would be expanded. Homes with anyone under the age of 18 would have to securely lock up guns that aren't being used.

Hochul also commented on her resounding primary win over two opponents, after replacing the hard-charging former governor, Andrew Cuomo, who resigned in a sexual harassment scandal. Speaking with reporters shortly after the polls closed Tuesday night, she said she’s showing that governing can be more cooperative and less about personal ego, saying, “people are so tired of the drama."

“People are crying for a new kind of leadership, they’ve never had a woman for their governor before. They weren't sure what to expect,” Hochul said. “And 10 months later, to have this scale of support is humbling to me, but also opens the door to all women. All women now know there are no barriers, because a woman has succeeded.”

She is painting her Republican opponent, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin, as a right-wing extremist and highlighting his support of former President Donald Trump. Trump is popular among Republicans in the state, but not with independents and Democrats, who represent far more voters.

Hochul, who was a congresswoman in the early 2010s, also said she intends to use her political capital to help Democrats hold on to and win seats in Congress. She said she knows the pain of being in the minority party, and she says she does not want to see the GOP hold control again.

“They’ve already telegraphed that they are willing to have a national ban on abortion rights,” Hochul said. “That’s not a scary movie. That’s what Republicans are saying.”

But she said for now, she needs to focus on fixing New York’s laws after the recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. She said six judges are no match against 213 state legislators and called the ruling a “temporary setback.”