SCOTUS gun law strike: Hochul vows special session action as New York pols seethe over decision

A family takes a selfie outside of the U.S. Supreme Court, which struck down the state's gun laws.
A family takes a selfie outside of the U.S. Supreme Court.
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

New York politicos blasted Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down the state’s strict limits on carrying a concealed handgun in public — and Governor Kathy Hochul vowed to bring the state’s legislative bodies back from recess to respond to the decision.

“This could place millions of New Yorkers in harm’s way,” said Hochul. “This decision, isn’t just reckless, it’s reprehensible. It’s not what New Yorkers want. We should have the right of determination of what we want to do in terms of our gun laws in our state.”

“I’m prepared to call the legislature back into session to deal with this. We’ve been in contact with the leadership. We’re just looking at dates,” the state’s chief executive added. “Everyone wants a little bit of time to digest this, but I will say we are not powerless in this situation. We’re not going to cede our rights that easily. Despite the best efforts of the politicized Supreme Court of the United States of America, we have the power of the pen.”

The ruling, which was handed down on Thursday morning, saw the 6 conservative justices in the majority with the three liberals on the bench dissenting. The ruling will allow citizens in New York to carry firearms in public — reversing a 109-year-old law barring concealed carry in the Empire State.

The decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen now opens the door to allow anyone to brandish a concealed handgun in the Big Apple, and other cities and states that had similar laws on the books. 

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who represents the Bronx (a hotbed of shootings), said the state would look towards passing new laws to limit the presence of firearms — though the court’s decision will surely hamper any of those efforts. 

“In these devastating times, when the nation is reeling from mass shootings that have shaken Americans to their core, we must stand united to address the laws that keep allowing guns to fall into the wrong hands,” she said. “New York will rise up to this latest challenge to pass additional gun safety legislation.”

Her counterpart in the assembly, Speaker Carl Heastie, joined Stewart-Cousins in her condemnation, saying the decision would “have broad and dangerous consequences for states that have chosen to prioritize the right of people to feel safe.”

“For more that 100 years, New York State has required individuals to establish proper cause to carry a gun in public spaces because we know more guns do not make our streets safer,” he said.

‘Contradicts common sense, Constitution’

President Joe Biden said he was “deeply disappointed” in the ruling, and bemoaned the overturning of a century-old law designed to keep guns out of the public.

“More than a century later, the United States Supreme Court has chosen to strike down New York’s long-established authority to protect its citizens,” the commander in chief said. “This ruling contradicts both common sense and the Constitution, and should deeply trouble us all.”

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York denounced the ruling as a threat to public safety. 

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling, which guts state concealed carry permitting laws, is not just irresponsible, it is downright dangerous,” she said. “Our nation is in the middle of a gun violence epidemic and instead of working to protect our communities, this court has made it even easier for potentially dangerous people to carry concealed handguns in public spaces.”

Mayor Eric Adams, who campaigned for City Hall on an anti-violence platform, vowed to act in response to the court’s decision. 

“Put simply, this Supreme Court ruling will put New Yorkers at further risk of gun violence,” Hizzoner said. “We will do whatever is in our power, using every resource available to ensure that the gains we’ve seen during this administration are not undone, to make certain New Yorkers are not put in further danger of gun violence.”  

For more coverage of the Supreme Court’s ruling on gun laws, head to amNY.com.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, in a statement following the ruling, called the decision a “dereliction of government’s sacred duty to keep its residents safe.” 

“Today’s ruling is equal parts dangerous, delusional and a dereliction of government’s sacred duty to keep its residents safe,” he said. “With this cult-like obsession with firearms now forced upon New York by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, we are less safe today than we were yesterday.” 

The Queens pol lamented that gun manufacturers were seeking profits at the expense of public safety. 

“For years in states across this country, far-right radicals who fetishize firearms and worship at the altar of weaponry have prioritized the profits of gun manufacturers — and the campaign contributions they make in return — over public safety,” he said. 

According to the Associated Press, around 50% of those who voted in the last presidential election favored stricter gun laws. 

This year alone, there have been 693 victims of gun violence within the Five Boroughs, according to the NYPD

Rightward shift

The decision comes after the nation’s highest court has seen a rightward shift in recent years, with the appointments of justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett under the administration of former President Donald Trump. 

All three cloak-wearing legal eagles had expressed their support for less restrictive regulations on firearms. 

They joined their three colleagues, Thomas, Associate Justice Samuel Alito, and Chief Justice John Roberts, in nixing the New York State law Thursday.