State to restrict where weapons can be carried

ALBANY, NY (AP) — New York will ban people from carrying firearms in many businesses unless owners put up a sign explicitly stating that guns are welcome, Governor Kathy Hochul said Wednesday.

The Democrat said she and legislative leaders have agreed on the broad outline of a gun control law slated to pass Thursday, just days after the The US Supreme Court has overturned the state’s gun licensing law.

The court’s ruling will allow ordinary New Yorkers to be licensed to carry a gun for personal defense for the first time in more than a century. It used to be hard to get an unlimited gun license unless you worked in law enforcement or security.

But Hochul said she also wanted to protect the rights of property owners who decide they don’t want firearms on the property.

Companies wishing to have guns nearby should put up a sign that reads “Hidden weapons welcome here,” or words to that effect, Hochul said. “Otherwise, New York State will suspect that they are not.”

“We’re going to protect the rights of private property owners so they don’t have to be subjected to someone walking into their workplace or a bar or restaurant with a concealed weapon,” Hochul said.

Gun rights groups were horrified at the idea that firearms could be banned by default in many places.

“She tells entrepreneurs how to run their businesses if they want to stay open. These are unconstitutional mandates and I believe it will be overturned by the courts,” said Aaron Dorr, the executive director of the New York State Firearms Association.

The push for new restrictions follows the Supreme Court’s decision to remove a provision in New York’s licensing law that requires people to display an unusual threat to their safety in order to carry a gun.

The state is introducing new requirements for obtaining a firearms license, Hochul said, including mandating 15 hours of personal fire training. The legislature will also enact new rules for the storage of firearms in homes and vehicles, she said.

Hochul and fellow Democrats also plan to draw up a comprehensive list of “sensitive places” where the average citizen will be completely banned from carrying firearms, including government offices, hospitals, schools and public transportation.

A handful of states, including California, are considering similar steps to review gun control measures following the Supreme Court ruling.

According to David Pucino, deputy chief counsel for Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, New York would be the first state to pass a law to allow concealed weapons only in companies that explicitly allow it.

In many states where gun-carrying is common, it’s usually up to companies to put up no firearms signs. Some states, including Louisiana and South Carolina, require people to be allowed to bring firearms into private homes.

“The state is responding in a very forceful way to address the new risks created by the court, but in a way that fits the framework the court has put forward about what a constitutional set of gun laws looks like,” Pucino said. .

The Supreme Court ruling said states can ban firearms in certain locations, but warned it would be unconstitutional to simply ban guns in all highly populated areas.

Hochul said she is still working with lawmakers to work out details of gun control legislation, including her proposal to bar people with histories of dangerous behavior from obtaining gun permits.

Lawmakers will also require background checks on all purchases of ammunition for licensed weapons, Hochul said.

That’s already required in several states, and a 2013 state law would have required such checks in New York as well once the state sets up a database. But legislative leaders and former Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed in 2015 to halt work on that database.

Dorr, the executive director of the New York State Firearms Association, said requiring background checks would harass law-abiding gun owners without promoting public safety.

“No criminal will walk into a store to buy ammunition,” Dorr said. “This is an absurd attempt to demonize law-abiding gun owners one more time.”

Maysoon Khan reported from Albany, NY Khan is a member of the Corps for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national, not-for-profit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on classified issues. Follow Maysoon Khan on Twitter.

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