Gun rights advocates push back on pistol mandates

ALBANY — Gun rights advocates said Tuesday that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s effort to create new requirements for pistol license applicants flies in the face of last week’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down New York’s restrictions on the issuance of concealed carry permits Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, said his group is prepared to initiate a lawsuit against state officials if any new gun legislation enacted at the state Capitol infringes on the constitutional rights of individuals to acquire and bear firearms.

The ruling secured by the Rifle and Pistol Association from the top court last week is expected to make it easier for people to carry guns not just in New York but in several other states that had similar restrictions on concealed carry permits.

“We didn’t come this far to guarantee the rights of the Second Amendment to the gun owners of New York state to have them taken away by some new laws proposed to circumvent the Supreme Court,” King said.

Lawmakers, in an emergency session slated to begin Thursday, are expected to take up several proposed amendments that could add additional training requirements by those seeking pistol permits and provide a clear definition of “sensitive” areas where guns are off-limits even to those holding concealed carry permits.

One of the Legislature’s leading advocates for gun control, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, told CNHI she believes the majority opinion authored by Justice Clarence Thomas will allow states to ban guns from being carried into sensitive areas, such as sporting arenas, mass transit vehicles and libraries.

“The Supreme Court actually mentioned in their decision that we are not precluded from doing that, with sensitive places being areas we don’t want to see guns come in at all,” Paulin told CNHI. “So I think that should be as expansive as possible, to make people safe.”

Paulin also noted she would support mandatory mental health evaluations for all individuals as part of the review for obtaining pistol permits. Currently, requirements regarding training vary greatly from county to county, with some counties allowing online classes and some not requiring training. This is another area that should be addressed, Paulin said.

“We need to clearly define standardized training across the state,” Paulin said. “If someone wants a gun, I want to know what they want to do with it.”

Some county sheriffs as well as the director of the New York State Police Chiefs Association, Patrick Phelan, said imposing new requirements on pistol permit holders seeking concealed carry permits are moves that unlikely to improve public safety in New York.

In Delhi, Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond accused Hochul and lawmakers supporting her gun control measures of attempting to override the decision of the Supreme Court and burden law-abiding New Yorkers and county governments that process pistol permits with more mandates.

“Only in New York do we have a governor and a state Legislature that pass laws to let criminals out of jail while at the same time putting up barriers for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves,” DuMond said. “The governor says she is outraged with the Supreme Court. She just doesn’t get it.”

In a television interview last week, Hochul was asked to provide her definition of what constitutes a sensitive place where legally-owned guns can be banned. “It’s hard to find a place that’s not sensitive, in my judgment,” she said. Hochul also said it was “absolutely shocking” the Supreme Court struck down New York’s limitations on concealed carry permits.

She also voiced concern that individuals in some states can obtain “high capacity assault weapon magazines intended for battlefields.”

“I’m prepared to go back to muskets,” she said, dramatizing her point.

King, branding Hochul as “a younger version of (Democratic House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi,” said the governor is destined to alienate large numbers of New Yorkers by continuing to push for additional gun restrictions. Reached in Plattsburgh, Clinton County Sheriff David Favro suggested that lawmakers seek input from community leaders, police executives and school security experts if they want to craft policies that enhance safety.

“There are conversations that need to be had first but we seem to do things the other way around,” Favro said. As for gun violence, he added, “It’s not one problem we are facing here. There are multiple problems, and therefore it’s going to take multiple solutions.”

A certified firearms instructor from Schoharie County, Brett Sharpe, said he disagrees with Hochul’s approach to gun control, contending places such as malls are safer when individuals authorized to have concealed carry permits are present and armed.

“For somebody to get a concealed carry permit,they have to spend the money to go through the training and they’ve actually concerned themselves with the law,” Sharpe said. “They want to be righteous, law-abiding citizens.”


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