Times Square Shooting Suspect Not Charged for Violating 'Gun-Free Zone'

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

When New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed a city ordinance declaring Times Square and other "sensitive places" off-limits to lawful concealed carry, the city's Chief of the Legal Counsel Division in the NYC Law Department proclaimed that the law would be enforced so long as it wasn't blocked by the courts. 


As it turns out, however, prosecutors aren't filing charges for carrying in Times Square... even when shots are fired. In fact, prosecutions for violating any of the state's "gun-free zones" established by the deceptively named Concealed Carry Improvement Act, despite the claims by Adams, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, and gun control advocates that these prohibitions are desperately needed. 

Nearly two years after New York lawmakers banned firearms in Times Square to prevent gun violence in the bustling tourist hub, a 15-year-old accused of shooting and injuring a tourist while shoplifting last week is facing no additional charges for bringing a gun into a so-called “sensitive location.”

A judge ruled Tuesday to keep the teenager in jail as he awaits trial as an adult on several counts of attempted murder, criminal possession of a loaded firearm and assault with intent to cause injury with a weapon, according to court records.

But prosecutors did not charge him with criminal possession of a weapon in a sensitive location — the charge attached to breaking the new law. As of early November, only three people in the entire state faced a top charge of criminal possession of a firearm in a sensitive location, and none of those had been in Times Square, according to state data. At least one other person accused of opening fire in Times Square since the law took effect in September 2022 was also not charged with violating the new law.


I'm certainly not complaining about the almost non-existent enforcement of the state's prohibited places, but it does beg the question of why these anti-gun lawmakers were so intent on making these locations off-limits to legal gun owners when prosecutors apparently have no interest in going after violators. 

Heck, even gun control activists themselves aren't complaining about the lack of enforcement, though you'd think they'd be raising hell about their one of their favorite tools to keep lawful gun owners disarmed in public. 

But David Pucino, legal director for the Giffords Law Center, a gun violence prevention organization, said even though the Manhattan DA's office did not bring a sensitive location charge in the recent Times Square case, the law still deters people from carrying guns in high-traffic areas.

“If that shoplifter had entered that store without a gun on him, it is likely that there would have been nobody injured in that incident,” he said. “But because there was a gun present, there was the possibility of that escalation and that violence taking place.”

Pucino said prosecutors should charge someone with violating the sensitive locations ban when they bring a firearm to Times Square or any other area on the list. But he said the measure is intended more as a deterrent. 

“The important point of these laws is to disincentivize people from bringing guns into those places in the first place,” Pucino said. “And I do think that those laws are having that effect.”


Does he really? In the past week we've seen shootings in Times Square and on a New York City subway platform; neither involving concealed carry holders, by the way. Doesn't seem like criminals are all that disincentivized, and now that the lack of prosecutions has become part of the public record there's even less cause for them to be concerned. I guess it doesn't matter to anti-2A activists like Pucino how many people get shot in these "gun-free zones". So long as no one shoots back in lawful self-defense, they'll chalk that up as a win. 

There's a reason why it's called "gun control" and not "crime control". The real goal of anti-gun outfits like Everytown and Giffords isn't to stop violent criminals from using guns, but to prevent us from exercising our right to keep and bear arms. Add in the fact that their allies on the left are loathe to put violent criminals behind bars, and you get situations like these; laws on the books that are rarely enforced, but still serve as a deterrent for those folks who don't want to have their lives upended by a felony charge for possessing a gun where the state says they're not allowed to carry.  That's the real effect of these "gun-free zones"; emboldening criminals while eviscerating our right to armed self-defense. It's shameful that the city and state are restricting the right to carry in so many supposedly sensitive places, and it's even more outrageous that they'll continue defending these prohibitions even while they refuse to prosecute the violent offenders who flagrantly violate the law.  


Join the conversation as a VIP Member