NY Gov. Hochul Orders Special Session to Consider New Gun Curbs

NY Gov. Hochul Orders Special Session to Consider New Gun Curbs
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at the New York State Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Aug. 24, 2021. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has ordered an extraordinary session of the state legislature to consider new gun control measures, following a Supreme Court decision that struck down the state’s concealed carry gun permitting system as unconstitutional.

The special session is due to begin in Albany on June 30, Hochul said in a proclamation (pdf), with the scope of deliberations to focus on “addressing necessary statutory changes regarding firearm safety.”
Hochul’s move comes after the Supreme Court ruled in a 6–3 vote on June 23 that New York’s concealed carry gun laws were unconstitutional.

“The Supreme Court’s reckless and reprehensible decision to strike down New York’s century-old concealed carry law puts lives at risk here in New York,” Hochul said in a statement.

The governor added that, since the high court issued its decision, she’s been working “around the clock” to craft gun control legislation in response to the ruling.

“My number one priority as Governor will always be to keep New Yorkers safe,” she said.

‘Proper Cause’

The New York gun permit law struck down by the Supreme Court generally required an applicant to demonstrate “proper cause” to obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun in public. Applicants met the “proper cause” requirement only if they could prove a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community,” according to a 1980 ruling by the Supreme Court of New York in Klenosky v. New York City Police Department.

The Supreme Court weighed whether the Empire State’s denial of concealed carry applications violated the U.S. Constitution.

“Because the State of New York issues public-carry licenses only when an applicant demonstrates a special need for self-defense, we conclude that the State’s licensing regime violates the Constitution,” Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion (pdf).

‘Right to Self-Defense’

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, called the high court’s ruling a “watershed win for good men and women all across America.”

“The right to self-defense and to defend your family and loved ones should not end at your home,” he said.

President Joe Biden condemned the Supreme Court decision, saying that it “contradicts both common sense and the Constitution and should deeply trouble us all.”

“I call on Americans across the country to make their voices heard on gun safety. Lives are on the line,” Biden said.

Meanwhile, Biden on June 25 signed into law the biggest firearm control measure introduced in the United States in three decades. The legislation, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, was passed by the House in a 234–193 vote on June 24, following Senate approval a day earlier.

Key provisions of the bill include incentives for states to adopt so-called red flag laws, expanding access to mental health programs, enhancing school security in a bid to prevent mass shootings, and ramping up federal background checks for people between the ages of 18 and 21.

Matthew Vadum contributed to this report.