NY lawmakers hammer out new gun restrictions in special session. Live updates

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

State lawmakers plan to meet in Albany again Friday morning after a marathon extraordinary session on Thursday that led to no action restricting how New Yorkers can carry or handle their firearms.

They met in a special session Thursday called by Gov. Kathy Hochul to respond to a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a component of New York gun law, which required a person show “proper cause” for carrying a concealed handgun. The High Court ruled that the requirement keeps residents from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Hochul also added a resolution to lawmakers' agenda that would "solidify" the right to abortion in the state constitution after the Supreme Court left that right to the states in a landmark ruling last week.

In a statement issued around 2:30 a.m. Friday, Hochul thanked legislative leaders "for working through the day and night on these bold actions in response to these reckless Supreme Court decisions."

"We will enact legislation to strengthen our laws on concealed carry weapons, and building on our nation-leading protections for abortion patients and providers, New York State will take an unprecedented step toward enshrining the fundamental right to abortion access into our State Constitution."

What will the legislation look like?

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during a New York governor primary debate at the studios of WNBC4-TV, June, 16, 2022, in New York.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks during a New York governor primary debate at the studios of WNBC4-TV, June, 16, 2022, in New York.

Early Friday morning, Hochul's office laid out a long list of new gun restrictions in what her office called the Concealed Carry Improvement Act. It would narrow the list of acceptable places to carry a concealed gun, banning them from medical or educational buildings, zoos, public transit, Times Square and other spaces. Other proposals include stronger safe storage laws for vehicles and homes, and strengthening the criteria that would disqualify someone from having a gun, including "a history of dangerous behavior," Hochul said.

If passed, the measures would take effect Sept. 1.

Officials decry session, say it's aimed at law-abiding gun owners

Some Republican lawmakers came out against the special session Thursday, saying the Legislature appears to be wrongly focused on further restricting the rights of law-abiding gun owners, who want to carry guns for self-defense.

"Albany is again targeting the wrong population," said Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Long Island Republican who is running against Hochul for governor in November after winning the Republican gubernatorial primary Tuesday.

"Crime is out of control, but NY Dems keep prioritizing criminals over law-abiding NYers," Zeldin continued on Twitter Thursday, referencing the killing of a mom walking with a baby stroller on New York City later Wednesday.

Others asked why the bill language wasn't available just hours before the session is set to begin.

"With three hours until the “special” session starts, do you mind releasing bill text for the public, and ya know, the legislators, to look at?" said Assemblymember Mike Lawler, R-Pearl River.

Advocates call on Albany to pass amendment on abortion

June 24, 2022: People gather at Union Square to protest against the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case, removing a federal right to an abortion.
June 24, 2022: People gather at Union Square to protest against the Supreme Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case in the Manhattan borough of New York City. The Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case, removing a federal right to an abortion.

Pro-choice advocates had some unfinished business following the end of the regular session in Albany. They hoped lawmakers would take a second look while gathered for the special session to discuss gun legislation.

The Equality Amendment, which would amend New York's Constitution to enshrine protections for abortion as well as for someone's race, sex, or disability, didn't make it through the Legislature before the end of session earlier this month. Now, legislators will take it back up for consideration this week, although its fate is still unclear.

In order to be fully passed, the amendment would have needed to be passed by two consecutive Legislatures over two years, and clear a voter referendum. That means that if it doesn't pass this year, it couldn't be fully passed until at least 2025.

"We need to put abortion protections in NY's constitution so it's protected from political meddling. That's where the Equality Amendment comes in," said the New York Civil Liberties Union tweeted Tuesday.

Three hours in, lawmakers close to agreement

Three hours after the special legislative session in Albany officially began at noon Thursday, the gun bill and proposed Equality Amendment were still being hammered out behind closed doors.

Sen. Zellnor Myrie, a Brooklyn Democrat, emerged from discussions around 3 p.m. and told reporters the gun legislation was nearly completed, with some details still unresolved but agreement among leaders of the two chambers on the overall content.

“I think we’re very, very close,” he said.

Myrie said the proposal was so vital to public safety that lawmakers and the administration were focused on ensuring it would comply with the Supreme Court decision and withstand any legal challenges. Among the topics still under discussion was what types of public places would be classified as “sensitive areas” where carrying guns is forbidden.

“This is such an important public safety bill; we want to make sure that it isn’t subject to attack,” he said.

This article originally appeared on New York State Team: NY lawmakers consider new gun restrictions in Albany. Live updates