New York sheriff hands out "guns welcome" stickers for businesses

Seth Perlman

In less than two weeks New York’s sweeping new restrictions on the right to carry (passed after the Supreme Court struck down the state’s “may issue” carry laws) are slated to take effect, and one county sheriff is doing everything he can to both warn gun owners about the impending changes and to encourage businesses to welcome concealed carry holders once the new laws take effect.

Dozens of gun owners across Fulton County turned out for an informational meeting hosted by Sheriff Richard Giardino and Assemblyman Robert Smullen at a volunteer fire department on Tuesday evening, and both officials were adamantly opposed to the new restrictions, which they say could easily turn a law-abiding citizen into a felon simply for carrying a legally-possessed firearm into a location where they’ve lawfully carried for years. Under the new laws taking effect on September 1st, virtually all private property will be considered a “gun-free zone” by default, and violating the new law comes with serious consequences.

Smullen and Giardino said the gun control law will make carrying a concealed firearm into any of the list of “sensitive places” listed in the legislation a class E felony, even for the approximately 15,000 pistol permit holders in the Fulton County.

“You now have to be careful,” Smullen said. “As a law abiding gun owner, you must be careful so as not to put yourself into a position where you could be made into a criminal by a law that’s moved the goal post.”

It’s perfectly legal for someone with a carry permit to have their gun on them when they go shop at their local Walmart, for instance, but unless the chain chooses to post signage welcoming gun owners it will be a felony offense starting on September 1st. Sheriff Giardino says he’s hoping to see most businesses put up signs allowing concealed carry on the premises, but so far he hasn’t had much luck with big box retailers.

Giardino said the Fulton County Sheriff’s Association, which is the nonprofit corporation of the sheriff’s department, has created about 250 signs that say “Notice: Lawful Concealed Carry Permitted on these Premises” in bright red letters over black text flanked by two Fulton County Sheriff’s stars, which states “We Support your 2nd Amendment Right. Support Businesses that Support the Constitution.”

Giardino said he’s given out about 75 of the signs, and also said a smaller less “provocative” sign is available at the Pine Tree Rifle Club, which he said hundreds of people have taken. He said so far none of the major corporate chain stores have expressed interest in the signs.

“A lot of businesses around here, until Sept. 1, had always welcomed carry concealed [people], and most people didn’t even know the person sitting at the next seat at the counter had a concealed firearm,” he said. “I haven’t kept a list [of the businesses that have taken the signs], but I know one of them is Let’s Twist Again in Perth.”

One business owner in attendance says he’ll be posting his signage before the new laws take effect. Vince Perella, who owns a car repair company, says he believes the new restrictions are designed to inhibit the exercise of a constitutional right, not to bolster public safety.

“I have no problem with it,” he said. “I’m sure I have a few [customers that do it now]. I think the biggest thing is I travel back and forth from work and I carry money. So, I’ve always [carried a firearm] back and forth from work. So, if I have to put it into a lockbox, I might as well not take it. And what I think they’re trying to do is for people who don’t have a [concealed carry] permit to make it so hard that they’ll just say ‘Nah, I won’t do it,’ and in time they will cut down on the number of people who have guns.”

I think that’s exactly what’s going on. which is why it’s so important that these new laws are being challenged in court. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and her cohorts in the state legislature are appalled that so many residents are choosing to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and they’re on the wrong side of history and the Constitution by actively impeding their attempt to do so. I’m still hopeful that a federal judge will grant an injunction barring enforcement of these new provisions before September 1st, but even if the laws are allowed to take effect the litigation will continue. Unfortunately so will the arrests and prosecutions of New York gun owners who erroneously believe that, thanks to the Bruen decision, the state of New York now recognizes and respects their right to bear arms in self-defense.