Confusion abounds in New York as the state gets ready to roll out a bevy of new gun restrictions on Sept. 1, 2022.
All the head-scratching stems from legislation known as the “Concealed Carry Improvement Act,” (CCIA), that was rammed through in the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision, NYSRPA v. Bruen, striking down New York’s unconstitutionally restrictive “may issue” standard.
“Rammed through” is not overstating what transpired. Gov. Hochul and the Dems in the Legislature passed the bill the same day it was introduced, bypassing a longstanding mandate in the state Constitution that requires at least a three-day review period.
There was no time to discuss nor debate many of the controversial provisions, including requirements that a permit applicant satisfies all of the following:
- Display “good moral character”
- Disclose their social media accounts for review
- Have in-person interviews with law enforcement
- Provide four “character references”
- Undergo 18 hours of combined training
Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, told GunsAmerica that the CCIA “flies in the face of what the U.S. Supreme Court” stated in the Bruen decision.
“The test is still subjective and now includes privacy concerns with citizens required to submit their social media for screening and an approval process that is left to the whims of bureaucrats to grant or deny without objective criteria,” said Oliva.
Additionally, the new law bans guns in so-called “sensitive locations,” which is a blanket term that has yet to be clearly defined.
“Further, the state’s attempt to draw arbitrary and wide circles around sensitive places still serves to deny the ability for New Yorkers to legally carry a concealed firearm,” observed Oliva. “The state’s unwillingness to resolve these issues with less than one month before the law goes into effect is only rivaled by their unwillingness to hold criminals accountable and lock them up.”
Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-115) agrees that Hochul is flying blind. Jones sent a letter to the governor’s office in July asking for clarification. But it went unanswered. On Aug. 4, Jones released a statement expressing his frustration.
“New Yorkers deserve to know exactly what this bill means for lawful gun owners across the state, especially residents of the Adirondack Park who are worried that they will be guilty of a Class E felony because of concealed carry restrictions in state parks,” he said.
“There are also concerns about having enough training facilities and certified instructors in rural communities across the state to provide the training required under this new legislation that needs to be addressed,” he continued.
On the law enforcement front, sheriffs across the state are also left with more questions than answers.
Chelsea Merrihew, the Deputy County Clerk for Essex, told The Sun Community News that her office has been fielding a lot of calls from concerned gun owners.
“That’s what’s made it especially hard recently,” Merrihew said. “Everybody’s calling, and we’re just not really able to give them a lot of answers. That’s very frustrating.”
Essex County Sheriff David Reynolds is also trying to make sense of legislation.
“Everything in here is written confusingly,” Reynolds said. “I’m not a lawyer, so we’re trying to interpret it.”
Montgomery County Sheriff Jeff Smith pointed out to WNYT that the state updated the training requirement from four to 18 hours but provided no guidance on what the new curriculum should include.
Moreover, Smith was critical of lawmakers for rushing the bill through without input from law enforcement. He contends it would have made sense to have Sheriffs at the table as they are charged with processing the applications.
The New York Sheriffs’ Association made a similar complaint in July about not being consulted when the bill was being drafted. The NYSA said:
We want to be clear: The Sheriffs of New York do strongly support reasonable licensing laws that aim to assure that firearms do not get into the wrong hands. We do not support punitive licensing requirements that aim only to restrain and punish law-abiding citizens who wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights. If we had been consulted before passage of these laws, we could have helped the Legislators discern the difference between those two things, and the result would have been better, more workable licensing provisions that respect the rights of our law-abiding citizens and punish the lawbreakers.
Gov. Hochul’s office recently told WNYT that it would not be providing clarification nor would it be commenting on “any aspect of the law” because at least one gun-rights group, Gun Owners of America, has filed a lawsuit challenging the CCIA in court.
Everything remains clear as mud. What some might call a complete and total SNAFU.
New York pistol permit holders and applicants need to remember this come November, as Gov. Hochul is up for re-election.