Times Square’s “gun-free” status remains a contentious issue in the face of legal challenges, but the City is determined to forge ahead. Earlier this summer, the United States Supreme Court struck down New York’s concealed carry permitting requirements, which has resulted in an ongoing legal battle as the city and state try to find a balance between constitutional rights and public safety.
New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen
On June 23, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York’s concealed carry permitting requirements as unconstitutional in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. Barely eight days later, on July 1, New York State passed the Concealed Carry Improvement Act to address the Bruen holding and also reinforce NYS gun laws across the board.
The Concealed Carry Improvement Act restricts carriage of firearms in “sensitive locations.” The act goes into detail listing categories covered as sensitive locations—such as government buildings, schools, places of worship, and—according to some interpretations—even supermarkets. In addition, the Act specifically includes the area known as Times Square. In such “sensitive locations,” firearms are prohibited even to those with concealed carry permits.
On August 31, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams announced the implementation of Times Square as a “sensitive location” under the Concealed Carry Improvement Act. The Act covers Times Square only “as such area is determined and identified by the City of New York… and conspicuously identified with signage.” Adams initially announced plans for signs to be posted with information, translations, and links to an online FAQ; although some signs did go up, the exact boundaries remained to be “determined… by the City of New York,” and no online information ever went live.
On October 11, Adams signed bill Intro. 0602-2022 as Local Law 91 of 2022. The new law defines the geographic boundaries of Times Square as bounded by 6th and 9th Avenues, as far south as W. 40th Street, and as far north as W. 48th St. between 6th and 8th Avenues, or W. 53rd St. between 8th and 9th Avenues. It also authorizes the NYPD to enforce the firearm prohibition.
“Today,” said Adams, “with the signing of Intro. 602, we enshrine into law that Times Square is a gun free zone.”
“As chair of the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety,” said New York City Councilmember Kamillah Hanks, “I am deeply encouraged by what this will do for our city’s safety at-large.”
Antonyuk v. Hochul and Other Challenges
Despite the actions taken by the City, the New York State Concealed Carry Improvement Act is facing current legal challenges that could make the City actions moot.
On July 11, 2022, a suit opposing the State Act was filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of New York by Ivan Antonyuk; Gun Owners of America, Inc.; Gun Owners Foundation; and Gun Owners of America New York, Inc. Antonyuk, who is unwilling to drive or eat without a loaded gun, was praised highly by the Gun Owners Foundation as “an adult male” having “no disqualification under state or federal law which would prohibit him from possessing a firearm.”
On October 6, U.S. District Judge Glenn T. Suddaby held that “it does not appear permissible for New York State to restrict concealed carry in the following place: ‘the area commonly known as Times Square…'” He also issued a temporary injunction prohibiting New York from enforcing the CCIA. That injunction has been put on hold for the time being, and the gun-free zone remains in place as New York Court of Appeals reviews Suddaby’s decision.
New York City Council and Mayor Adams have been undeterred by challenges to the CCIA’s validity. But Antonyuk’s suit is not alone. On October 20, two pastors vindicated concealed carry rights for themselves and their congregants in Hardaway v. Nigrelli; U.S. District Judge John Sinatra Jr. held the CCIA to be unconstitutional inasmuch as it prohibited concealed carry in a church. Whether the CCIA will prevail on appeal is uncertain, but what is clear is that New York’s gun control litigation is far from done.
By: Kyle Hunt (Kyle is a CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2024.)