NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York City mayor and New York governor raised the alarm on Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted state restrictions on carrying concealed guns in public, saying more people will now carry firearms and that everyone will be less safe.
Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat and former police captain, predicted that more disputes would turn into violence once it becomes easier to carry a gun in the city of more than 8 million, the nation’s most populous city.
“This decision has made us all less safe from gun violence,” Adams said at a city hall news conference. “The decision ignores the shocking crisis of gun violence that is sweeping not only New York every day, but our entire country.”
So far this year, 693 people have been shot in New York City, according to official statistics that include both fatal and nonfatal shootings, down about 9% from 765 in the same period last year.
Mass shootings are becoming more common in the United States, including one on May 14 at a convenience store in Buffalo, New York, which killed 10 black people. An outspoken white supremacist was charged with murder and domestic terrorism motivated by hate.
The Supreme Court first ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to “keep and bear arms” and was ratified in 1791, guaranteed an individual right to bear arms in public for self-defense.
The court’s conservative majority ruled that New York State’s system of issuing covert carrying licenses only to people who could prove they had “the right reason” was unconstitutional.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who called the ruling “deeply disturbing,” said the state will pursue a new gun licensing policy in line with the ruling.
“Shocking,” Hochul, a Democrat, said at a news conference. “Absolutely shocking that they have stripped us of the right to reasonable restraints.”
Hochul said her office would work with the Democrat-controlled state legislature to pass new measures, including defining “sensitive places” where guns would be banned.
Paige Graves, the general advisor to the New York transit system, said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has begun to put in place “appropriate rules to keep dangerous weapons out of our subways, buses and commuter trains.”
Hochul proposed changes to the state’s licensing process that would create a “higher threshold” for concealed carry licenses and require firearms training. She said she does not want weapons to be allowed on private company premises unless the entrepreneur expressly decides otherwise.
Her office said that as of Thursday, New Yorkers still needed to apply for a concealed-carrying permit, but more will likely be granted because an applicant no longer has to provide a specific justification for wanting a self-defense weapon.
Large groups of public defenders in New York City filed a petition with the Supreme Court last year in support of gun rights plaintiffs in the case.
The public defenders said they represented many clients, especially black and Hispanic New Yorkers, who continued to comply with the law but had been prosecuted for obtaining a weapon for self-defense or wrongly denied a license.
“This decision could be a positive step towards ending arbitrary licensing standards that have hindered legal Black and Brown gun ownership in New York,” the Legal Aid Society said in a statement.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; editing by Will Dunham and Donna Bryson)