Hochul: New Yorkers need to be protected from concealed carry licensees

Hochul: New Yorkers need to be protected from concealed carry licensees
(AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane)

Gun control advocates love to pretend they’re not really anti-gun. In fact, they don’t even like to be called “gun control advocates,” preferring instead the kinder, softer “gun safety” title, even though their idea of gun safety is “don’t own one.”

But in her remarks on the latest courtroom battle over the constitutionality of New York’s concealed carry restrictions, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday let the mask slip. It’s not about “common sense” or “reasonableness.” It’s not about “gun safety” or even “striking a balance” between the rights of citizens and the government’s interest in public safety. No, for Hochul and her fellow anti-gun advocates, anyone carrying a firearm, no matter how much screening or training they’ve gone through beforehand, is a threat.

After Monday’s press event to tout the expanded use of “red flag” laws under her watch, Hochul took a few questions from some of the reporters who were present. One of them asked Hochul for her response to a federal judge suspending enforcement of the ban on concealed carry in houses of worship; a decision that meant church leaders across the state can now once again decide if they want to allow concealed firearms on their property, as was the case before the so-called Concealed Carry “Improvement” Act was rammed through the legislature earlier this year.

Keep in mind that pastors, rabbis, and any other worship leader who wants to ban firearms from their sanctuary is welcome to do so, even under the judge’s TRO. It’s just that now pastors like Jimmy Hardaway, Jr. and Bishop Larry A. Boyd can once again carry inside their church without committing a felony offense punishable by years in prison. I think that type of ban is as difficult to defend in the court of public opinion as it is in a court of law, but Hochul gave it the old college try, and in doing so, revealed just how much contempt she has for responsible gun owners.

Hochul’s office didn’t include the Q & A with reporters in their archived video of her press conference, but thankfully I was taking notes. Hochul’s initial response to the church carry question was to deflect entirely, pointing to Mississippi’s rate of “gun violence” (which is higher than New York’s) and making boilerplate statements about how New York’s laws are saving lives while “respecting” law-abiding gun owners; a claim which is utterly ridiculous given that the state isn’t even allowing law-abiding gun owners to carry on their own property in some circumstances.

The governor then finally dealt with the specific issue of church carry. She didn’t deal with it well, but she did address it; explaining that, as someone who spends a lot of time in church (five just this past Sunday, said the candidate) she knows that “people don’t want to sit there wondering if someone next to them is carrying a weapon,” calling out by name shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. 

I’m going to be really blunt here. If Kathy Hochul truly thinks that the killers in either of those cowardly acts would have been stopped by the presence of a “guns not allowed” sign she’s too stupid to get behind the wheel of a car, much less run the ship of state.

In fact, the Charleston murders were cited by attorneys for Hardaway and Boyd in arguing that the state’s ban should be thrown out. These pastors have a legitimate fear that some Sunday someone’s going to come walking through the front doors of the sanctuary with evil in their hearts and murder on their mind, and they know darn well that Kathy Hochul’s declaration that no one shall bring a gun onto church property isn’t going to save them if and when that day ever comes. That’s why they want to carry a gun. That’s why they have been carrying a gun in church, at least until Hochul and her anti-gun allies made it a felony offense to do so.

They can’t afford to hire private security. Their safety is up to them, but Hochul believes these concealed carry holders themselves pose a threat to their fellow parishioners just by being armed. More importantly, she believes that her position gives her the authority to dictate that armed self-defense shall not be allowed in a house of worship, despite a paucity of evidence in the text or history of the right to bear arms and rulings from not one but two U.S. District court judges.

Hochul went so far as to declare herself disappointed in Judge John Sinatra, Jr.’s decision to grant a TRO. Disappointed that Bishop Boyd could carry his sanctuary last Sunday. Disappointed in the fact that synagogues weren’t defenseless in Brooklyn or in Orange County. Disappointed that prosecutors couldn’t bring felony charges against a pastor who dare let it slip that they were defying state law and continuing to carry during worship.

These are the very people that the state has said are “safe” enough, are “responsible” enough, have enough “good moral character” to carry a firearm. Kathy Hochul is disappointed that they can now do so in places that she herself acknowledges have been the site of targeted mass murders of unarmed victims.

There’s no way that you can have any shred of respect for the right of self-defense or for the right to keep and bear arms and be disappointed in this decision, which again, still allows faith leaders to follow Hochul’s lead and ban firearms from their property if they wish to do so. The truth is that you will never be trained enough, never be responsible enough, never be safe enough to carry (or even own) a firearm according to Hochul and her anti-gun allies. Hochul’s response to the church carry question made that clear, and now it’s up to the courts to make it clear to the governor that she’s not going to win this fight against one of our most fundamental rights.

I also hope New York voters will send a message of their own to the governor in two weeks. It would be the upset of the century in New York politics if Lee Zeldin is able to dethrone Kathy Hochul, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility, especially with crime becoming perhaps the biggest issue in the race. Hochul sees responsible gun owners as at least as big a problem as violent criminals, and I don’t think that message is going to resonate with voters… including those who don’t own a gun but can tell the difference between someone who has a license to carry and the average carjacker, home invader, or drive-by shooter in their city.