Times Square a gun free zone as new New York gun law takes effect

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Thursday, September 1, 2022
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New York state's new Concealed Carry Improvement Act goes into effect today. The NYC Council is working to make Time Square a sensitive place. Naveen Dhaliwal has the details.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Amid the bright lights and electronic billboards of Times Square, there are now signs proclaiming the bustling Crossroads of the World a "Gun-Free Zone."

The sprawling tourist attraction is one of scores of "sensitive" places -- including parks, churches and theaters -- that are off-limits for guns under a sweeping new state law that went into effect Thursday.

The law was in response to the Supreme Court repealing the state's 100-year-old law limiting the availability of concealed carry permits.

The NYPD reported a 54% increase in gun permit applications ahead of the law taking effect, but Governor Kathy Hochul says anyone getting a new permit will be subject to the same new training requirements, as well as providing character references and a review of social media accounts.

In an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Mayor Eric Adams called the new approval process "common sense."

"It's really just almost a common sense of, basically, analysis," he said. "If someone is spewing hate, if someone is making a dangerous threat, if someone is part of some form of hate group, the police officer or the detective or the investigator is going to use their investigatory skills to determine if there's something that's a red flag there. And it is really about using the good, old fashioned methods of doing investigation."

Adams added that it won't just be social media checks, and that NYPD officers reviewing gun permits will also be "knocking our neighbors' doors, speaking to people, finding out who this individual is that we are about to allow to carry a firearm in our city."

The law survived a legal challenge overnight, with US District Judge Glenn Suddaby in Syracuse rejecting the request by Gun Owners of America, Inc., and others for an order to halt the rollout of the state's Concealed Carry Improvement Act.

But the judge also encouraged the gun-rights supporters to continue, noting that he himself had "a strong sense of the safety that a licensed concealed handgun regularly provides" to those "too powerless to physically defend themselves in public without a handgun."

Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James praised the judge's ruling, but more legal challenges are all but certain.

For now, though, Times Square remains gun free -- and the mayor's office launched a comprehensive outreach plan to educate New Yorkers about the new law.

The sensitive place boundaries proposed by the New York City Council will extend from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue and from West 40th Street to West 53rd Street.

The locations will have to apply for and renew their status as a sensitive location every three years.

The sensitive area only applies outdoors, not inside buildings within Times Square.

NYPD 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.

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