Lawmakers in New York have begun a special legislative session with the intent of limiting the proliferation of firearms in public, after the US supreme court gutted a century-old state handgun licensing law.
The conservative-dominated court decided ordinary citizens had a right to arm themselves in public for self-defense, something New York had limited mostly to people working in law enforcement or security.
The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, has said the supreme court ruling came at a particularly painful time, as the state mourned the deaths of 10 people in a racially motivated shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo.
“This decision isn’t just reckless. It’s reprehensible. It’s not what New Yorkers want,” she said.
In response, new rules being rushed through an emergency session of the state legislature would allow many more gun owners to apply for a license to carry a concealed weapon, but would seek to set new restrictions on where firearms can be carried.
Lawmakers had hoped to have a vote on Thursday but drafting the bills continued until shortly before 1.30am on Friday and was set to resume later in the day.
“We’re continuing to have serious discussions because the implications are hard to overstate,” said the state senator Zellnor Myrie, a Brooklyn Democrat, at an afternoon press conference in Albany, the state capital.
“We want to ensure we are doing this in a constitutional way, in a way that comports with the court’s opinion. We’re just trying to close the loop on some details.”
One provision proposed by Hochul, a Democrat, would ban people from carrying firearms into places of business unless owners put up signs saying guns are welcome.
New York would be the first state to pass such a rule, according to David Pucino, deputy chief counsel at Giffords Law Center.
In states where carrying guns is more common, businesses that want to keep guns out are usually required to post signs indicating weapons are not allowed.
New York would also set new requirements for obtaining a handgun permit, including mandating 15 hours of training at a firing range. The legislature is also primed to enact new rules around firearm storage in homes and vehicles.
Gun advocate groups are critical of the proposed restrictions, saying some infringe on rights upheld by the supreme court.
Hochul and fellow Democrats also plan on compiling a list of “sensitive places” where the average person will be banned from carrying firearms, including hospitals, schools and public transportation.
Other provisions require background checks for all purchases of ammunition for guns that require a permit, and bar people with a history of dangerous behavior from getting handgun permits.