New York officials, police and prosecutors decry Supreme Court gun ruling

Kena Betancur
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Elected officials, prosecutors and police officers in New York warned Thursday that the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a concealed-carry provision in the state would put citizens at further risk of gun violence.

In a landmark ruling on a Second Amendment case, the high court on Thursday struck down a New York gun provision that requires owners who want to carry a handgun outside of their home to prove that they have a unique need for self-protection. In a 6-3 decision, the justices ruled that the restriction was unconstitutional, making it easier for gun owners to carry such weapons in public.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, denounced the decision as one not rooted in reality and vowed to work with law enforcement partners to figure out ways to soften the blow.

"We will work together to mitigate the risks this decision will create once it is implemented, as we cannot allow New York to become the Wild West," Adams, a former New York Police Department captain, said in a statement.

He said his office will conduct a review of the state's approach to defining "sensitive locations," where carrying a gun could be banned, as well as its application process, "to ensure that only those who are fully qualified can obtain a carry license."

New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell cautioned New Yorkers that nothing has changed yet, noting that the decision has been remanded to the lower court.

"If you carry a gun illegally in New York City, you will be arrested," she said during a joint news conference with Adams. "When we open the universe of carry permits, it potentially brings more guns to the city of New York and to the streets of New York City, and that should concern us all."

At a separate news conference, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, called the decision "shocking" and said she is preparing legislation in response.

"It is outrageous that at a moment of national reckoning on gun violence, the Supreme Court has recklessly struck down a New York law that limits those who can carry concealed weapons," Hochul tweeted.

Paul DiGiacomo, the head of the Detectives' Endowment Association, a police union in New York City, said the decision would eliminate certain criteria that is needed in New York to obtain a carry permit, which "could further endanger NYPD detectives and fellow officers even when interacting with those carrying a gun legally."

Issuing a carry permit does not ensure that the person with that permit is properly trained to use a firearm "in close quarters where ricochets could kill or injure innocent people," DiGiacomo also said.

"More guns don't make people safer in crowded cities," he said. "Think of a subway car filled with people who are all carrying a gun."

For a police officer responding to an incident, "it heightens the anxiety if everyone around you has a gun," DiGiacomo told NBC News in a phone interview Thursday.

The New York City Police Benevolent Association did not immediately return a request for comment.

In a statement, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez called the decision "a nightmare for public safety," saying there's overwhelming evidence that states "with permissive gun laws see much higher rates of gun deaths — from accidents to suicide, domestic incidents to street crime."

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg echoed his remarks, saying the decision "severely undermines public safety."

"The Supreme Court may have made our work harder, but we will only redouble our efforts to develop new solutions to end the epidemic of gun violence and ensure lasting public safety," Bragg said in a statement.