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U.S. Appeals Court Preserves N.Y. Concealed Carry Law Pending Review of an Order Allowing Guns in Times Square and Other ‘Sensitive’ Areas

"Gun Free Zone" Signs Posted Around Times Square

A “Gun Free Zone” sign posted on 41st Street and 6th Avenue on Aug. 31, 2022 in New York City.

The Second Circuit allowed New York to keep enforcing the state’s recently enacted concealed carry law until a panel can review a federal judge’s ruling forcing authorities to allow guns on buses, subways, theaters, child care centers, Times Square and other “sensitive” spaces.

The court’s single-page order preserves the status quo until a three-judge panel can consider the merits of the appeal.

New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) applauded the ruling.

“I am pleased that the full Concealed Carry Improvement Act will stay in effect and continue to protect communities as the appeals process moves forward,” she wrote in a statement. “My office will continue our efforts to protect the safety of everyday New Yorkers and defend our common-sense gun laws.”

Late last week, a federal judge in Syracuse gutted broad sections of New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act, a measure meant to preserve firearms regulations in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case New York Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. In a sweeping interpretation of the Second Amendment, Justice Clarence Thomas held in Bruen that gun regulations must be “consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

U.S. District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby, a George W. Bush appointee, applied a strict interpretation to that test. In the process, he temporarily blocked passages of the law prohibiting firearms on subways, ferries, museums, child care centers, and other “sensitive places” — on the grounds that analogous regulations did not exist in the 18th and 19th century.

The attorney general’s office commented on the sweeping nature of Suddaby’s order in requesting a stay.

“The Order precludes the State from enforcing the CCIA’s prohibition on firearms in various ‘sensitive locations,’ including public transit, parks, libraries, playgrounds, and zoos, and Times Square; mandates that strangers be allowed to carry firearms onto others’ property absent an affirmative prohibition by the proprietor; and modifies New York’s licensing requirement of ‘good moral character,’ while enjoining the enforcement of statutes requiring disclosure of contact information for household members, the presence of minor children in the home, and recent social media accounts, all of which are vital to the determination of good moral character,” Assistant Solicitor General Eric Del Pozo wrote in a recent motion.

Blocking New York’s concealed carry law indefinitely, he continued, could have deadly consequences.

“As the data confirm, more guns carried in more places by more people result in more crime, violence, and homicide,” Del Pozo noted.

In comparing present-day regulations with historical analogues, the Empire State noted that times have changed since past centuries and ridiculed some of the comparisons accepted by the lower court. For example, Suddaby struck down bans on firearms on mass transit by noting that 19th century laws authorized carrying firearms “on a journey.”

“Comparing hurtling through tunnels in electrically powered cars filled with thousands of people (including schoolchildren and the elderly) to journeying via horse through the countryside is like saying that ‘a green truck and a green hat are relevantly similar’ because both are green,” the memo states.

[Image via Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."