A new federal law that could affect how many guns legally come into New York City. The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 is currently being reviewed by a house subcommittee focused on security. If passed it will make states honor conceal carry handgun permits issued by other states. Kamila Kudelska takes a closer look at the possible consequences in New York City. If passed the bill would let guns move around the city more freely including places concealed guns are banned from now like bars and schools.
Kudelska: In the chic Chelsea neighborhood where you can shop at Club Monaco or Nike, you can also find Manhattan’s only shooting range. (SOUND) John Legarreta is an instructor at the Westside Rifle and Pistol Range. He’s standing in front of a thick bullet resistant glass window. You can see paper targets behind him. Legerreta says most people are shocked to find out there’s a shooting range in downtown Manhattan. He says New Yorkers have the wrong perception of guns.
LEGARRETA: You can have people that are so unfamiliar when it comes to firearms that are perceiving them to what is shown on tv and movies and they will start picturing all these people carrying firearms in the nyc, it’s going to turn into the wild west and it’s just going to put them, make them feel uneasy if not fearful if this law will pass.
Kudelska: Legarreta says New Yorkers are worried about the new bill based on what they see in movies and TV where guns are used for violence and to kill.
LEGARRETA: As opposed to looking at it as the simple tool that it is. in the wrong hand deadly, right hands save a life and in other hands a sporting tool
Kudelska: Nelson Mills grew up shooting handguns with his father in upstate New York. He has a permit because he says his dad told him to get it.
MILLS: Originally I wasn’t to interested in conceal carry but i would feel kind of stupid if i needed it and didn’t have it.
Kudelska: Mills shoots competitively. He owns four handguns. But he says there’s only one reason to carry a concealed handgun.
MILLS: If I carry I carry self defense, no other purpose to carrying
Kudelska: If the new bill is passed, gun owners like Mills who have a permit from their state would be able to carry a concealed handgun in ANY state. But when it comes to guns different states have different rules. And that’s one issue Richard Aborn is worried about. He’s president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City — a non profit organization focused on criminal justice and public safety policies.
ABORN: If you’re from a state out west where it is very easy to get a license to carry. that will allow that person to not go through any training or background check or anything else to come to ny with that gun.
Kudelska: New York City has one of the toughest handgun permitting laws in the country. It’s really hard to get a permit except if you work in law enforcement. A criminal and mental background check is required. It can take up to 6-8 months to get approved. BUT other states like Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont — don’t require a concealed permit at all. Manhattan’s district attorney and NYPD Commissioner have urged legislators to oppose the bill. They say it could increase terrorism and hate crimes.
Aborn: Cause you can get ppl who want to come to new york bc they have this misguided notion prob some mental defect that they want to lash out at a minority and they bring a weapon from another state and you could end up with a fatality.
Kudelska: John Lott is president of the crime prevention research center. He says law abiding citizens don’t cause problems — they get permits. But he says the current patch work of state laws can be confusing to them. The new proposal would fix that.
Lott: There are huge diff across diff states. Awhile ago there was a women from PA who had a concealed carry permit drove briefly into nj with her kids. got pulled over by her police officer. she was immediately arrested bc she wasn’t allowed to carry in NJ even though she was able to carry in PA.
Kudelska: Lott acknowledges in this case the law was broken but says gun holders shouldn’t be forced to choose between their safety and confusing state laws. But Nelson Mills, the competitive shooter says he’s still on the fence whether the law should pass.
MILLS: It prob should, I’m tentatively in favor.
Kudelska: It’s complicated. For him it’s about policy and politics and that’s what it would take to get the bill passed. So far the majority of republicans in both senate and house support the bill while all democrats are opposed. No date has been scheduled for a vote yet. Kamila Kudelska, Columbia Radio News.