New York has adopted a sweeping gun control law aiming to ban firearms from a number of “sensitive areas,” including Times Square, also requiring social media checks for gun permit applicants to ensure their “character and conduct.”
“This to me is the embodiment of what it means to be an American,” Hochul said of the law soon after it passed the state Senate, adding she would sign it “in honor of our Fourth of July weekend.”
The law bans guns from a long list of “sensitive areas” around New York State, such as popular tourist sites, as well as schools, libraries, universities, government buildings, playgrounds and parks, public transit and stadiums. Residents will also no longer be allowed to carry firearms into private businesses unless the owners post clear signage stating it is permitted.
A more controversial measure in the bill requires those looking to obtain a gun permit to send the government “a list of former and current social media accounts… from the past three years” in order to confirm the “applicant’s character and conduct.” Additionally, they will be made to submit at least four “character references” who can “attest to the applicant’s good moral character.”
The bill was passed during a special legislative session, called after the US Supreme Court struck down a century-old New York gun control law last week. While the provision forced permit-seekers to demonstrate that they required a gun for self-defense, the court concluded that it violated the 14th Amendment “by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.”
Though Democratic supporters have said it will help “make New Yorkers safe,” the new legislation has faced intense criticism from Republicans and gun advocates, with the executive director of the New York State Firearms Association, Aaron Dorr, blasting it as “the kind of bill that the Gestapo would be proud of.”
“This will never survive a court challenge,” he added.
GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin – who won the party’s nomination for an upcoming governor’s race earlier this week – was also highly critical, arguing the law would only make residents less safe.
“Only under one party Democrat rule can criminals run amuck armed with illegal guns, while law abiding New Yorkers are stripped of their right to safely and securely carry a firearm solely for self-defense,” Zeldin said.
Debate over gun control has been rekindled by a spate of mass shootings in recent months – including a rampage in Buffalo, New York, which left 10 dead in May – prompting new legislation across a number of states and on the national level. Late last week, President Joe Biden signed a major bipartisan gun bill into law, aiming to limit access to firearms from those considered dangerous, the most significant legislation of its kind to clear Congress in nearly 30 years.