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Hochul outlines special session agenda responding to Supreme Court ruling on concealed carry

Governor Kathy Hochul delivers remarks following a meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns in East Greenbush.
Mike Groll
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Governor Kathy Hochul delivers remarks following a meeting of the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns in East Greenbush.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who scored a resounding win in Tuesday’s primary, is not stopping to savor her victory. She outlined her plan for a Thursday special session of the Legislature to address the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down New York’s restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon.

The governor said she’s still working on details with the Senate and Assembly, but said the state’s new concealed carry regulations will include several “sensitive” locations that will be off limits to concealed handguns, including schools, government buildings, public transit, parks, hospitals and public gatherings of more than 100 people. She said for all private property and businesses, the default positon would be that concealed weapons are not permitted. The owner of the business or land would have to post a sign specifically stating that concealed weapons are permissible if they are comfortable with them. Hochul said the measures would give New Yorkers peace of mind when they leave their homes.

“They don’t have to worry about someone being right there next to them, having a weapon — whereas before they would not have a right to be there,” the governor said.

But she conceded that after the Supreme Court ruling that struck down New York’s 100-year-old law on limiting the carrying of concealed weapons, she can’t restrict access everywhere, and she anticipates that there will be more weapons on the streets in the future. In his opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said that an urban area like the borough of Manhattan could not be considered entirely off-limits to concealed weapons, but Hochul said the national legal experts she’s been working with believe the state still has some powers of regulation.

“I will go right up to the line, but I won’t cross the line,” she said.

Additional measures would also make it more difficult to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. A background check would include a search for a history of dangerous behavior or mental health problems, and background checks would also be required for purchasing ammunition. 15 hours of in-person firearm safety training would be required, and rules on safe storage would be expanded. Homes with anyone under the age of 18 would have to securely lock up their guns at all times when they aren’t using them.

Hochul also commented on her resounding primary win over two opponents after replacing hard-charging former Governor Andrew Cuomo, who resigned during a sexual harassment scandal. Speaking with reporters shortly after the polls closed Tuesday night, she said she’s showing that governing can be more cooperative and less about personal ego, saying “people are so tired of the drama.”

“People are crying for a new kind of leadership — they’ve never had a woman for their governor before, and they didn’t know what to expect,” Hochul said. “And ten months later, to have this scale of support is humbling to me, but also opens the doors to all women. All women now know there are no barriers, because a woman has succeeded.”

Hochul is painting her Republican opponent, Long Island Congressman Lee Zeldin, as a right-wing extremist, and highlighting his support of former President Donald Trump. Trump is popular among Republicans in the state, but not with Independents and Democrats, who represent far more voters.

And Hochul, a former Congresswoman in the early 2010s, said she intends to use her political capital to help Democrats hold on to and win seats in Congress. She said she knows the pain of being the minority party, and she does not want to see the GOP hold control again.

“They’ve already telegraphed that they are willing to have a national ban on abortion rights,” Hochul said. “That’s not a scary movie. That’s what Republicans are saying.”

But she said for now, she needs to focus on fixing New York’s laws after the recent Supreme Court decisions. She said six judges are no match against 213 state legislators, and the ruling is a “temporary setback."

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.