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The Current State of NYC Gun Regulation

The Current State of NYC Gun Regulation

A new law that recently took effect earlier this month requires 16 hours of hands-on training and disclosure of 3 years of social media posts, as well as creating “sensitive locations” where gun owners are not permitted to bring their firearms.  This includes healthcare centers, restaurants, bars, airports, libraries, the subway, and Times Square.

Critics of the law claim that there is almost no way to go about your day as an average New Yorker, and not without reason: Albany is currently testing the boundaries of the new Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen.  In this case, when the Supremes decided that New York’s law requiring a license to carry a concealed firearm in public places is unconstitutional, they effectively interpreted a right to carry a pistol into the Second Amendment.  This is similar to how they interpreted a right to privacy that previously covered abortion, interracial marriage, and LGBT marriage out of the Constitution in overturning Roe v. Wade (with Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion stating this explicitly in the context of contraception).

It is hard to tell how the courts will treat these or other laws regulating guns, but likely that Second Amendment groups will soon challenge them, so we probably will not be in suspense for long.  

Efficacy of “Sensitive Locations” in NYC

We must again reference the population density and pace of life in NYC: it will be difficult to figure out who has brought their gun where, and allowing people to come up to the edge of a “sensitive area” with a gun will result in more guns making it into these “sensitive areas,” even if by criminals or some guy that left it in his gym bag by accident. 

While gun laws are typically a good idea, without a broad, comprehensive policy, the banned weapons tend to cross borders fairly easily.  Being able to keep guns out of certain locations will help. Still, the increased availability will lower the barriers of entry for people to bring them into the banned areas – allowing people to bring guns closer to the subway will ultimately end up putting more guns in the subway, even if some of those with the weapons may have been able to secure them through other illicit means, i.e. driving them in from an out of state gun show.


Let’s Be Frank…

With the sheer number of readily-available weapons in this country, somebody with mental health issues going through the worst day of his life finding a bump stock, setting up a position within firing range of Times Square on a busy day with an AR-15 and emptying several extended clips before the cops or vigilantes (a.k.a. the “good guys with guns”) get their sh*t together is always on the menu – the Tsarnaev brothers that bombed the Boston Marathon were originally planning to bomb Times Square on New Year’s Eve, and this exact scenario unfolded on a country music crowd in Las Vegas. 

This is where the center of gravity of the gun debate is.  However, that is not what is currently being debated at the state level in New York.

The concealed carry debate is more about having several times as many New Yorkers being able to legally carry a concealed firearm, almost all of whom are or will be teetering on the edge of a mental breakdown at some point if they live within the 5 Boroughs.  As a practical matter, what do we get in exchange?

Though some will argue personal security, as we have seen time and time again, average people with guns are not John Wick: they simply cannot go from watching a pug decide whether to sit up on Tik Tok to actually taking a human life with hands steady enough not to shoot bystanders, or the Second Amendment crowd would be cheering their name during every debate. 

To put it illustratively, NYC can occasionally be like several circles of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno converging.  Every New Yorker that stays long enough will personally witness fistfights, junkies shooting up, and any number of hyperbolic absurdities at the extreme periphery of the human experience that defies description, even if they try to stay to the rich areas they saw in Sex & The City – at the height of the pandemic, I saw a man screaming something unintelligibly, wearing a paper surgical mask that had soaked up so much blood his nose appeared to be broken.  He scraped a large knife along the sidewalk, sending sparks flying an impressive distance as I passed by for my nightly 2 a.m. insomnia-jog, rethinking my life decisions. 

Adding more guns into a ridiculously high-pressured, obviously crazy population with very diverse notions of when violence is appropriate is simply not going to help anything other than a few military LARPers feel a false sense of security.  Considering the sheer amount of violent incidents regular New York City commuters have already seen, how can throwing more guns into this mix help?

With the wretched oversight we currently have over a transparently corrupt, increasingly-political Supreme Court, I’ll hand it to the firearm industry lobbyists offering a disgusting level of “gifts” to the Justices: nothing makes me want to buy a gun more than the thought that the guy talking to himself on the subway already has one.

Thumbnail Credits:  Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images


  • This is an opinion piece by Attorney Ryan Campbell
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