2A group: Hochul's proposed tweaks to NY carry laws just "smoke and mirrors"

2A group: Hochul's proposed tweaks to NY carry laws just "smoke and mirrors"
AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Honestly, I think that might be giving the governor’s proposed changes a little too much credit. The modifications to the Concealed Carry “Improvement” Act that Kathy Hochul wants to see in place are so minor that I’m honestly not sure why she included them in her recent budget proposal. Gun owners certainly aren’t going to be mollified by the suggested changes, and if anything they could make the state’s legal defense even harder than it already is.


Before we get to that, however, let’s look at what exactly the governor is proposing:

Hochul is seeking to clarify under the state’s new concealed carry laws that security guards at places of worship can possess a firearm, despite places like churches being deemed a “sensitive location” where guns are prohibited. Currently, security guards can possess a firearm while working their job, but it does not specify they can be hired to work at a place of worship.

This clarification doesn’t help all those places of worship that are too small to hire licensed security guards to stand watch during services, but I do appreciate the governor recognizing that an armed security presence is a good thing. Now if she’d only realize that the Second Amendment guarantees us the right to serve as our own security detail and certainly allows for pastors, rabbis, and other religious authorities to permit concealed carry on their premises.

The governor is also proposing to allow retired law enforcement who are in good standing and up to date on their firearms licenses to be exempt from the concealed carry laws. The statute allows retired police officers to carry a firearm in sensitive locations, but the new language expands on that definition, using a federal standard for law enforcement instead of the state’s regulation.
So the expanded definition results in a more restrictive provision? Now that seems on brand for Hochul.
Following backlash from upstate Republicans, Hochul wants to clarify that firearms are also allowed at historical reenactments, on movie or theater production sets, as well as by people participating in military ceremonies, funerals and honor guards or in a biathlon competition. She also is recommending that the designation of a public park as a restricted “sensitive location” does not apply to the Adirondack or Catskill state parks, which encompass massive swaths of residential areas.
That would be the biggest change, though the law itself is ambiguous about whether those parks are currently considered “sensitive places”. Hochul has maintained they’re not, but several lawmakers said it was their intent to ban guns in those locations, so this might be the most controversial of Hochul’s proposals as well.
While that last proposal would be a modest step forward, Hochul and New York Democrats are miles away from truly recognizing and respecting the right to bear arms, and Gun Owners of America-New York’s Bill Robinson is less than impressed with her proposed modifications to the monstrosity known as the CCIA.
He sees several issues, both with the proposal and with the existing law. His organization, GOA-New York, is a lead plaintiff in a case challenging the state’s new concealed carry law.
Robinson contends violent crimes are rarely committed by individuals with pistol permits. He also pointed to the extensive training and practice with a firearm he has as a licensed instructor and member of the GOA, which he said may surpass that of police officers.
“When they’re retired police officers, they’re retired,” Robinson said. “They’re citizens like I am, like anyone else. We can’t be making special rules.”
It does seem like that would violate the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and indeed that argument is a part of several of the court challenges to the current carry laws underway in federal court. I don’t see anything in Hochul’s proposals that are going to render the state’s carry restrictions legally defensible; just a couple of new lines of attack for the gun-owning plaintiffs suing over the infringements on their fundamental right to bear arms.

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