(NEW YORK) — The New York City Council’s Public Safety Committee is holding a hearing Tuesday on legislation that seeks to define the boundaries of Times Square in order to designate it as a “sensitive area” free from the concealed carry of guns.
The legislation would officially identify “the area commonly known as Times Square,” according to the draft bill, and thus determine where people will be restricted from carrying concealed firearms.
The legislation comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a New York law that had restricted the concealed carry of handguns in public to only those with a “proper cause.”
The council’s designation will be tailored to fit the U.S. Supreme Court definition of “sensitive places” that could be subject to gun restrictions, like areas around schools, government buildings and polling places.
“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,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the decision.
The Supreme Court ruling in June fell along party lines, 6-3, with the conservative justices favoring the freedom to carry concealed guns, “so long as those States employ objective licensing requirements,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh added in a concurring opinion.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law in July in response to the court decision, which included making the concealed carry of guns in “sensitive locations” illegal. According to the legislation, “sensitive locations” could include airports and public transportation, entertainment venues, bars and restaurants, houses of worship and Times Square, among others.
The state left it up to the city to determine what exactly constitutes Times Square.
There are two proposals set to be discussed at the hearing, according to a draft of the bill. The first would define Times Square as being bounded on the west by Eighth Avenue, the south by West 40th Street, the east by Sixth Avenue and the north by West 50th Street. The second would define Times Square as being bounded on the west by Ninth Avenue, the south by West 40th Street, the east by Eighth Avenue and the north by West 48th Street.
The latter would include the heavily trafficked Port Authority Bus Terminal, while the former would not.
The New York Police Department has received an additional 1,100 hand gun applications since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June.
The state’s new gun laws take effect Thursday.
Before the pandemic, Times Square saw more than 400,000 people pass through each day in the busy summer months, according to the Times Square Alliance. Those numbers fell during 2020 and 2021, but are on the rise again.
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