NYSBA Journal Includes Our Guide to Strengthening Gun Laws in New York

The New York State Bar Association devoted the summer 2012 issue of its Government, Law and Policy Journal to an in-depth discussion of gun laws, public health, and public safety, and invited the Law Center, as well as other gun violence prevention organizations, public health experts, elected officials, and scholars, to contribute to the conversation. We are pleased to share our contribution, which analyzes the current laws on the books in New York.

Our article, entitled “Regulating Guns in New York: Existing State Laws and How They Could Be Strengthened,” focuses on six key legislative approaches to preventing gun violence that New York should adopt. For each approach, the article details New York’s existing law, or lack thereof, recommends how the law should be changed, and presents examples of relevant existing laws in other states and New York City.

Recent polling confirms that a strong majority of New Yorkers support limiting the number of handguns an individual can buy to one a month and strengthening the state’s laws regulating firearm sales, two of the critical issues that we discuss in our article.

This article is reprinted with permission from Government, Law and Policy Journal, Summer 2012, Vol. 14, No. 1, published by the New York State Bar Association, One Elk Street, Albany, NY 12207.

Gun Lobby Intensifies Efforts to Weaken State Gun Legislation

The Law Center’s tracking of firearm-related legislation in all 50 states has revealed a dangerous trend: a significant number of new bills to expand the ability of people to carry loaded firearms in public places. A Wyoming bill, for example, that would allow individuals to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, is already awaiting the Governor’s signature. Bills allowing concealed carry without a permit have been introduced in 13 other states this year. Several bills weakening the regulation of guns in public were enacted last year.

Other dangerous bills that appear to be gaining momentum in 2011 include those to:

Allow guns in government buildings, houses of worship, and even in some areas of elementary and secondary schools;
Require university and college administrators to allow guns on campus;
Allow guns in bars and restaurants where alcohol is served;
Require businesses and employers to allow guns in vehicles in designated parking areas.

The Law Center Responds With New Model Law

In response to this alarming trend, and in an effort to support activists and legislators nationwide, the Law Center has drafted a model law and report entitled “Regulating the Carrying and Possession of Firearms in Public Places.” The model, which is based on existing state laws, provides two alternative approaches. The first prohibits the open carrying of firearms and only allows concealed carry in public in accordance with a permit issued after an individual has shown good cause, passed a background check and received extensive training. The model does not allow carrying in government buildings, schools, establishments that sell alcohol or other sensitive places. The second approach prohibits the carrying of firearms in public, hidden or exposed, with exceptions for law enforcement officers, members of the military and other appropriate individuals.

Polling reveals that Americans feel less safe when people carry hidden guns in public, and overwhelmingly oppose laws that ease concealed permit requirements and allow firearms in places like college campuses, government buildings, restaurants and bars. The public should be aware that state legislators are bowing to gun lobby demands for more guns in public places and should hold irresponsible legislators accountable. The Law Center will continue to monitor and shed light on this dangerous trend and to do whatever we can to counteract it.