Believe it or not, bans on lawful concealed carry on New York City’s public transportation is a relatively new thing. Before the Supreme Court issued its decision in Bruen, the few New Yorkers who possessed a valid concealed carry permit were free and clear to transport their firearm with them on a city bus or subway, but the city and state declared the public transit network to be one of the many “sensitive places” where guns are banned when they enacted their post-Bruen restrictions.
New York City’s subway system appears to be a “gun-free zone” in name only, however. As the New York Post reports, transit police have nearly doubled the number of arrests for carrying a gun this year compared to 2019, with 37 firearms recovered so far this year. According to NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper, the increased number of arrests is a good thing.
The NYPD is trying to do something about the public’s perception by curtailing quality of life offenses, such as turnstile jumping, which has led to 97% of the gun arrests so far this year, Kemper said.
“This leads to a perception of lawlessness and our cops are working hard to correct it,” he said.
Cops have written fare-evasion summonses or made arrests in 103,066 stops so far this year as compared to 67,473 in the same period in 2022 — a 52.8% hike, police said.
Most of the people — 97% — who are stopped for fare evasion get simple non-criminal summonses.
“This is not about arresting people,” he said.
“This is about correcting behavior.”
Basically, the only time NYPD officers are busting someone with a gun in a subway station is when they’ve already drawn attention to themselves by jumping the turnstile and avoiding paying their fare. The number of people carrying in violation of the law is almost certainly substantially higher than the 37 individuals who’ve been caught so far this year, especially when the consequences are still few and far between.
So far this year the NYPD has made 10,783 arrests in the subway, compared to 6,848 it made in the same period last year — a 57.5% spike.
Kemper pointed out that crime underground was up over 40% in 2022 compared to the same period in 2021 when ridership was down because of COVID-19.
“It’s real progress,” Kemper said.
“But we still recognize that we still have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be and we’re committed to that. We’re not waving a flag of victory.”
But a second police source said the arrests are just cosmetic, in part because many of the people arrested aren’t being prosecuted.
“Nobody’s going to jail and they all know it,” a Brooklyn cop said, “even if they’re carrying a gun.”
Just scrap the prohibition already. If there are little-to-no consequences when someone illegally carrying a gun is caught with one in a subway station, yet lawful gun owners who try to do the same are at the very least subject to having their concealed carry permit revoked (and may well have felony charges filed to make an example of them), it’s pretty clear that the current system is meant more to dissuade those with carry permits from carrying than those who are breaking New York law by simply having a gun in their possession.
While the Supreme Court has said that some places may truly be “sensitive” enough to ban lawful carrying, it makes absolutely no sense to include public transportation in that small group of acceptable “gun-free zones.” In Bruen, the Court recognized a general right to carry in self-defense in public, and banning concealed carry on public transportation completely negates that right for anyone who depends on a bus or a train to get around the city.
There’s virtually no chance that New York City will voluntarily get rid of any of its “gun-free zones”, so New Yorkers will have to rely on the courts for relief, and unfortunately it’s gonna be a bit before Antonyuk and its associated cases challenging the state’s post-Bruen gun control laws make it to the Supreme Court for review. In the meantime, criminals will continue to ignore the current law, while those carry permit holders who choose to abide by it are forced to sacrifice their right to keep and bear arms in self-defense long before and well after they set foot in a subway car.