NYC council debates which parts of Times Square will be off limits to concealed carrying of guns

The NYPD said it has received an additional 1,100 hand gun applications since the Supreme Court ruling.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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The New York City Council on Tuesday debated which parts of Times Square will be off limits to the concealed carrying of guns. Jim Dolan has more.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The Crossroads of the World was at the center of a New York City Council hearing on the state's new gun laws in the wake the Supreme Court decision allowing greater access to conceal carry permits.

The City Council on Tuesday debated the rollout and enforcement of the plan, as well as which parts of Times Square will be off limits to the concealed carrying of guns.

A new state law that takes effect Thursday has designated Times Square a "sensitive area" where concealed carrying of guns is prohibited.

The City Council committee had questions about the rollout.

"I feel it's not advertised enough right now that in September, some people may have concealed weapons and get caught up in something that if they would've known in advance," Council Member Darlene Mealy said.

It follows the High Court decision in June that struck down the century-old permit process in place but allowed restrictions in certain areas near schools, government buildings and polling places.

"I'm not hearing PSAs, I'm not hearing commercials," City Council member Rita Joseph said. "What if I'm the average gun carrying person, and I don't have access to the internet?"

The state has already permitted firearms to be barred in the "area commonly known as Times Square," as part of its Concealed Carry Improvement Act, but officials left it up to the city to determine precise boundaries.

"Times Square is back to pre-pandemic pedestrian crowding," said Tom Harris, president of Times Square Alliance during Tuesday's hearing. "Given the high and continuously growing levels of foot traffic, we appreciate the state's recognition as a very dense area deserving an extra layer of public safety protection."

For most of the testimony, City Council members asked the NYPD various questions about policing the Times Square area and implementing the new rules.

The City Council's proposed legislation would set parameters for Times Square's sensitive place designation from Sixth Avenue west to Eighth Avenue and from West 40th Street north to West 53rd Street.

An adjoining section would be from Eighth Avenue west to Ninth Avenue and from West 40th Street north to West 48th Street.

The area only applies outdoors, not inside buildings, though some buildings are already defined as sensitive locations under state law, including houses of worship, polling sites, schools, day cares and Broadway theaters.

There will be signs erected throughout the designated area.

"For Times Square specifically, the law requires signage in the designated zone, it is clear and conspicuous," said Robert Barrows, Executive Director, NYPD Legal Operations and Projects. "I do have a copy of the signage, what that will look like, the signage will be placed at every entry point in the zone, there will be two signs on each side. This will be temporary, more permanent signage will be installed, if as expected, this bill becomes law, that is another opportunity I think to educate our officers as well because precinct personnel and Manhattan south personnel will start installing these signs by September 1."

Police officials say the department has a targeted education campaign, reaching out to licensed gun owners or applicants who will be impacted.

Officials also say the NYPD will be able to enforce the new gun free zone without additional officers, technology, data collection or checkpoints.

Ahead of the new law, which also includes new background checks for gun purchases, there has been a surge in gun applications.

The NYPD said it has received an additional 1,100 hand gun applications since the Supreme Court ruling.

The legislation is expected to be challenged in court.

Council members, meanwhile, said that in the future, there could be additional designated sensitive areas.

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