Democratic officials throughout Nassau County and New York condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to overturn a longstanding law that placed restrictions on carrying concealed firearms in public on Thursday.
The 135-page decision, which found that individuals demonstrating a special need for self-defense when applying for a concealed carry license is unconstitutional drew the ire of many Democratic officials who believed the restrictions protected their communities. State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) said the safety of ‘every New Yorker’ is now at risk due to the Supreme Court’s decision.
“For a century, New York has had common-sense laws on the books that protected residents from the threat of gun violence by regulating who can have a gun, and where they may carry it,” Kaplan said in a statement. “Public safety is my top priority, and I refuse to let our communities fall victim to the unnecessary pain and suffering that gun violence inflicts.”
Democrat Kevan Abrahams, the leader of Nassau County’s Minority Legislature, described the decision as a “shocking blow” to the century-old gun safety framework and said his colleagues will do whatever they can to keep Nassau’s residents safe.
“We are especially concerned about how the increased number of concealed firearms will make it even more dangerous for law enforcement professionals to do their jobs and protect the public,” Abrahams said in a statement.
Michael Dowling, the president and CEO of Northwell Health, said he was troubled by the Supreme Court’s decision, agreeing with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s description of the ruling as a “reckless and reprehensible decision.”
“I look forward to the work that [Hochul] and our legislative leaders are now undertaking to determine New York’s best, most effective response. Northwell Health stands ready to support these efforts in whatever ways are necessary,” Dowling said in a statement.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, in a press conference Thursday, was noncommittal about what the measure would mean for Nassau County until officials had a chance to thoroughly vet the decision.
Blakeman said he, personally, believes in every American having the right to bear arms, but said “reasonable restrictions” are important as well.
“I want to see what the restrictions are, what the guidelines are and then we’ll act accordingly,” Blakeman said. “We have a great police department and our Pistol License Bureau will be on top of this and the county attorney will give me the guidance that I need to be able to make sure we keep ourselves safe at the same time follow what was decided by the Supreme Court.”
Abrahams urged Blakeman to work with the minority caucus in finding ways to best protect the county’s residents.
“We urge County Executive Blakeman and the Legislative Majority to follow the recent example of the United States Senate and work with us in a bipartisan manner to pass reasonable laws that will keep firearms out of the hands of people who should not have them and protect the rights of law-abiding citizens,” Abrahams said.
Gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) blamed Gov. Kathy Hochul for her previous support for individuals with concealed weapons to cross state borders and enter New York as a member of Congress. Suozzi bashed Hochul in a statement, despite the governor condemning the Supreme Court’s vote.
“Hochul should call the State Legislature back tomorrow and get to work on passing this legislation immediately,” Suozzi said. “She said during the last debate that ‘within hours’ of this Supreme Court decision she would act, but today she said ‘everyone wants a little time to digest this.’ New Yorkers don’t need time to digest. What is she waiting for?”
“My team has been preparing for this decision and exploring every possible action, and we are in discussions with the legislature about our legislative options,” Hochul said in response to the decision. “We are not powerless, and we will do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, in a press conference, said the decision decreased the overall safety throughout New York’s communities.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision may have opened an additional river that is going to feed the sea of gun violence in our city and in our nation,” Adams said.
New York City Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said any individual that illegally carries a gun throughout the city will be arrested, noting that the immediate impact would be ‘minimal,’ according to the Daily News.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Thursday night that the U.S. Senate passed “the first significant gun safety bill in nearly 30 years.’
The bill would strengthen background checks on younger individuals seeking to obtain a firearm and includes $750 million to help states implement ‘red flag laws’ which allow law enforcement or families to remove an individual’s firearm if their behavior indicates they are a danger to harm themselves or other people.
Additionally, $150 million will be used to support a national suicide prevention hotline, $240 million for mental health initiatives for school-age children and $60 million to provide primary care physicians with behavioral health training.
Hochul, on Saturday, said her team is convening an extraordinary session of the state legislature on June 30 to pass new legislation surrounding gun safety. Officials said they will find ways to define “sensitive locations” where individuals could not carry a concealed weapon in public. Hochul said she believes all of New York City should be included as a “sensitive location.”
“I will do everything in my power to protect New Yorkers,” Hochul said in a statement. “Just weeks after the white supremacist act of terror in Buffalo, we moved swiftly to pass a landmark, nation-leading legislative package to strengthen our gun safety laws.”
According to a CBS News report, half of the country utilizes state-issued permits to carry a concealed weapon in public.
In the cases of states including California and New Jersey, individuals have a right to carry a firearm in public ‘only if they have a need to do so.’
Government officials have discretion in denying an applicant a concealed carry license even if the individual meets the necessary requirements. Supreme Court arguments in November from various New York officials, according to CBS News, centered around how repealing the gun safety framework could result in concealed firearms being carried in airports, churches and even schools.
The most recent expansion of gun laws was in 2008 when the Supreme Court found it to be constitutional to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense purposes.
With the new decision, New York’s concealed-carry permit application process could mirror other states’ which are comprised of meeting minimum age requirements and general background checks.
Under Supreme Court rules, a party has 25 days from the decision to ask the court for a rehearing, unless the court or a judge shortens or extends the window to challenge the decision.
Roughly half of America’s 45,000 yearly gun deaths are suicides, Dowling said.
“Being that guns have surpassed motor vehicle crashes as the nation’s No. 1 cause of death among young people and many of the recent mass shootings – including Uvalde and Buffalo – have involved teenagers, anything that we can do to keep guns out of the hands of young people is a step in the right direction,” Dowling said.
Northwell has frequently conducted programs centered around educating individuals on and combatting gun violence, something Dowling has described as a “public health issue.”
Recently, Northwell’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention brought together family members of those who lost their lives to gun violence and survivors of incidents aimed at preventing further incidents from happening.
“The most likely reason that your kid will die in this country is at the hands of a firearm – and that is absolutely unacceptable,” Dr. Chethan Sathya, a pediatric trauma surgeon who also serves as director of Northwell’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention, said during the event.
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), another gubernatorial candidate, lauded the Supreme Court’s ruling, saying that the previous framework was an attack on the Constitution’s Second Amendment.
“The Supreme Court’s decision marks a historic, proper, and necessary victory for law-abiding citizens of New York, whose Second Amendment rights have been under constant attack,” Zeldin said in a statement. “It reaffirms their inherent right to safely and securely carry to protect themselves, their families and their loved ones, and the principle that this Constitutional right shall not be infringed.”