New York leaders fear a Supreme Court ruling overturning state restrictions on handguns could lead to an increase in gun crime

A Supreme Court ruling on the legality of New York’s gun licensing system could come as soon as this week, with some in the state concerned that a decision to overturn the state’s law could make it easier to access to firearms and that gun-related crime is no longer common.

“We’re going to look at the decision because the decision could be on many different levels. We’re going to look at the decision and see what powers we have and what will we need from our federal lawmakers to kind of put laws in place that could prevent the Supreme Court’s decision from having an impact on our cities,” he said.

Officials stressed that even if this changes, it will not happen overnight and that there will be some time for everyone to acclimatize.

New York does not allow people to carry guns outside their homes unless they have first shown the state a “good reason” to carry a gun; the question before the court is whether licensed firearms holders who wish to carry a firearm would have to prove to the state that they need to carry a firearm. If the court makes it easier to get a concealed carry permit, authorities expect more people to conceal and carry weapons.

“I’m very worried,” said Rodney Harrison, Suffolk County Police Commissioner, a former Commander-in-Chief of the New York Police Department who is now the top cop in a large suburban county in Long Island, New York. “John Q. Public gets a gun he didn’t learn how to use and now he comes across someone he thinks is committing a crime.

“Next thing you know, people are going to try to be super cops and take matters into their own hands. Now you have a shooting incident that didn’t warrant that kind of outcome,” Harrison said. “There are a lot of violent incidents that come from people carrying guns. Are they properly trained? Are they going to take matters into their own hands? Untrained people, taking matters into their own hands, are a concern.”

Lower courts have widely allowed leave for cause, but these conflict with a DC case where a court overruled the district’s just cause requirement. Every state allows the concealed carry of handguns in public, according to EveryTown for Gun Safetya gun safety advocacy group.
Half of the states including New York, require an authorization process for carrying concealed handguns in public. Twenty-two states require some training to conceal and carry, and eight states require a person to “show a good cause or special need” to carry a concealed weapon in public and obtain a concealed carry permit. According to EveryTown, approximately 25% of the US population lives in “proper cause” states like New York.

Law enforcement groups divided on the issue

A ruling that overturns New York’s law could lead to many more people concealing and carrying guns in New York by making the licensing process easier for would-be gun carriers and limiting the state’s ability to refuse. permits.

New York already banned people under 21 from concealing and carrying, and restricts where people can carry firearms — they’re banned in roadside rest areas and state parks, and the law goes beyond that. hands over to hotels and employers to find out if firearms can be kept on these properties.
The police who weighed in on this case the case before the United States Supreme Court were divided on the question of New York’s gun laws.
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Ancient police chiefs, in a brief filed in September, said that “likely to issue” firearms licensing laws that give states discretion over how they approve firearms licenses were “a essential element of their obligation to protect … their citizens”. This group included Bill Bratton, considered a former statesman in law enforcement leadership circles, as well as former police chiefs from Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Boston and elsewhere across the country. .
Separately, law enforcement advocacy groups New York to California and a handful of shooting and gun associations have argued that the epidemic of “killings and shootings” since the death of George Floyd in 2020 has increased the need for “self-defense where it is most needed”. more often needed: outside the home”. This group included state and local police groups, sports shooting groups from across the country, and police and legal education groups.
Some states have legalized carry without a license since the start of the pandemic, which generally allows adults to carry firearms without any licensing or screening process. Some law enforcement groups objected to this.

Harrison said firearms complicate the police response to any incident.

“Think of the police officer who sees a person carrying a gun, what disadvantage do you put that officer who is used to dealing with people in a certain way who is carrying a gun. Now, we’re going to be in a state of confusion,” Harrison said.

Prosecutor concerned about ‘ramifications’

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said the borough has fought against gun violence. Clark, who currently has 1,200 open firearms cases, says changes to the law could create problems for prosecutors.

“I don’t know what this will do for current cases,” Clark said. “I don’t know if a defense attorney will say ‘it was illegal, but now my client wants to apply for a license’. I don’t know what the ramifications will be.”

So far this year, 216 people have been shot in the Bronx and police have recovered 552 firearms during arrests, according to Clark. And while some want to carry a gun for protection, Clark says carrying a gun doesn’t make you safer.

“They could also be killed,” she said. “Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you’re safer than someone else. In the cases we have right now, both sides have guns and both sides make each other kill.”

Clark added that even if someone with a gun intervened, it wouldn’t necessarily make things better.

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“That good guy with a gun could still be a good guy with a gun but also hurt someone else,” Clark said, adding that many of the victims who were shot were hit by bullets. lost. “Even with the police there is friendly fire. Guns are dangerous in the hands of anyone.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg sent a memo to his aides detailing a game plan after the Supreme Court issued its opinion.

In the memo, emailed to staffers on June 1, Bragg says prosecutors are not only preparing for the types of lawsuits they might see, but will also be partnering with local and state authorities to ensure they can use existing laws to minimize gun violence issues. .

“If the Supreme Court issues the type of opinion that many are predicting, we will need to innovate and adapt to meet the new public safety challenges the ruling may pose — and we will,” Bragg said in the memo.

Bragg said a team is already in place, ready to read and analyze the ruling as soon as it becomes available, according to the memo.

Prosecutors in his office are already expecting a rush of court filings, including bail applications for motions to dismiss, and will be preparing their teams on how to counter those filings.

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