Meet NYC’s (un)surprising new gun owners: Councilwoman, grocer, new mom

AP Photo/Steven Senne

Most of America is free when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms. New York City, on the other hand, is the most oppressive jurisdiction when it comes to gun ownership


None of NYC’s gun control ever applied to criminals, of course. They’ve always thumbed their noses at the law, assaulting, robbing, hurting, and killing peaceable, decent New Yorkers, whose habit of obeying the law puts them at a disadvantage against criminals.

Thankfully, the NYSRPA v. Bruen case took the boot of New York’s oppressive laws off the throats of the people. What followed is understandable and unsurprising to gun owners who live in the rest of the country. Ordinary people have started exercising their Second Amendment rights (archived links):

Meet NYC’s surprising new gun owners: Councilwoman, grocer, new mom
By Doree Lewak

The number of New Yorkers legally packing guns is on the rise — and they’re not necessarily who you’d expect.

For a city where obtaining a license to carry a firearm was once, not that long ago, almost impossible, a surprising number of NYC residents — 17% — have bought a gun in the past year, according to a July Siena poll.


“I want it for protection,” Brooklyn councilwoman Inna Vernikov told The Post of her new gun. 

She received her concealed carry license this month after her application was approved in July.

When the Jewish Ukrainian native heads to her local synagogue for the high holidays starting Friday, she’ll be carrying an increasingly popular temple accessory: a 9MM Smith & Wesson. […]

“With anti-semitism, it doesn’t feel safe in the city anymore. You’re always on edge and watching your back,” said Vernikov, who asked her synagogue to designate her as a volunteer safety guard. (“Only certain people, such as official safety guards and congregation leaders, are allowed to carry guns in places of worship.)

“We are short on cops and recruitments are way down … As much as we need the police, we can’t just rely on the police. Something life-altering can happen in the time it takes for cops to arrive.”  


Vernikov completed a mandatory New York State concealed-carry class this spring, including 16 hours of classroom studies and two hours of live fire training.

New York State’s concealed-carry license also requires four character references, a list of former and current social media accounts for the last three years, an in-person interview, and disclosure of an applicant’s spouse or domestic partner as well as any other adults residing in the home.

At Vernikov’s “packed” shooting practice classes on Staten Island, she said, there were more female attendees than she expected.

Victoria Bonelli shares that sentiment.

“It’s not just my life anymore. I’ll be walking around with a baby and putting her in the car all the time. I’m really just ensuring that I’m properly equipped for a life-or-death situation. This is our reality now,” the mom of a newborn daughter told The Post.


Helming her training course was retired NYPD Sgt. Johnny Nunez runs an 18-hour New York State/ NYC concealed-carry course as required by the state.

“The demand is there — it’s incredible,” Nunez told The Post, noting the wide range of New Yorkers looking to protect themselves. “We’re seeing a lot of husband and wife teams, doctors and realtors — a safety issue because they show homes.”

Besides an uptick in the number of women, Nunez said he’s had more business owners register for the class, including barbers, jewelers, and grocers.


Aida, a Yonkers mom of two, fits the bill as a Manhattan market owner.

“It was never in my mind before,” said the 35-year-old, who grew up in a supermarket family. “It was only cops who were supposed to have them [guns]; they were supposed to provide us safety.”

But violence against local bodega workers — including a March robbery on the Upper East Side that ended in a deli employee’s death and a similar situation on Staten Island in July — scared her.


Several factors are at work here: an increase in crime thanks to criminal-friendly progressive policies, poor police response, a decrease in police recruitment, and an overall perception that crime, and especially hate, have increased. The people of New York City now have the choice to defend themselves and they are exercising it in droves. I am skeptical of the poll that says that 17% of NYC residents have bought a gun in the past year without corroborating data from permit applications. But despite all the training hurdles, the people are still applying, and they are legally getting around carry restrictions, as Vernikov did, by asking to become designated security guards.

“The mayor recently said that there are too many guns on the street — no, that’s not correct. It’s that there are too many illegal guns on the street,” Nunez said. “I challenge the politicians to show me the statistics: How many of those shootings [in the five boroughs] are trained concealed-carry gun owners responsible for?”

As the number of permit holders increases, I think the burdens imposed will come down as voters realize their inefficacy. Maybe we will see another positive headline like this 10 years from now.

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