Hochul calls back Legislature to address gun laws in aftermath of Supreme Court decision

Gun Rights

After the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday expanded gun rights by upending a century-old New York law, Gov. Kathy Hochul vowed to fight back and said she was prepared to call the State Legislature back into session “to deal with this.”

That’s exactly what she’s doing.

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Hochul late Friday said she was convening an extraordinary session of the Legislature at noon Thursday in Albany in an attempt to pass new gun safety legislation in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision. 

“The Supreme Court’s reckless and reprehensible decision to strike down New York’s century-old concealed carry law puts lives at risk here in New York,” Hochul said in a statement. “Since the decision was released, I have been working around the clock with our partners in the Legislature to craft gun safety legislation in response to this ruling that will protect New Yorkers. My No. 1 priority as governor will always be to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Upending a New York State law that had stood for a century, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday endorsed a major expansion of gun rights – prompting Gov. Kathy Hochul to say the state will fight back with new gun control measures.

The New York law had mandated people show “proper cause” to get a permit to carry a gun outside the home, and five other states – California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey – have similar laws.

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in a statement Friday said the Supreme Court’s decision makes “a mockery of the recent tragedies in Uvalde and Buffalo” and undermines the ability of states to protect residents from gun violence. He vowed to work with the Legislature to expand the number of places where firearms cannot be carried.

In its 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court said the New York law is a clear violation to the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms. 

“We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his opinion in the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. 

The decision was welcomed by gun rights advocates. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, called it a “landmark win for constitutional freedom and the NRA.”

Aside from the decision coming in the aftermath of the Buffalo and Uvalde mass shootings, it also occurred as senators from both parties agreed on major gun safety legislation for the first time in three decades. That legislation, which won approval in Congress on Friday and was signed by President Joe Biden on Saturday, enhances background checks for gun buyers aged 18 to 21, urges states to enact red flag laws and eliminates the so-called “boyfriend loophole” that allows people who abused their partners to have guns if they are not married.

In New York, Hochul on Thursday said her legal team is looking to draft legislation that restricts the right to carry weapons in sensitive locations, changes the permitting process and bolsters training requirements for those carrying guns in public. The state is also considering ways in which businesses and private property owners could “protect themselves” in a new era when people can routinely carry guns in public.

Jon Harris can be reached at 716-849-3482 or jharris@buffnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ByJonHarris.

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