Mayor Eric Adams is “very concerned” about the possible reversal of a state ban prohibiting New Yorkers from openly carrying loaded firearms on city streets, especially as the Big Apple has been struggling to combat a surge in gun violence.
“This is a significant issue for our city: it is the right to carry. After what we saw what the Supreme Court did on abortions, we should be very afraid,” said Adams during an unrelated press conference in Harlem Thursday morning, referring to a pending gun rights case before the US Supreme Court that could have serious impacts on New York law.
“In a densely populated community like New York, this ruling could have a major impact on us,” the mayor said.
The nation’s highest court is expected to decide a final ruling within the coming months on whether New York’s restrictions would be loosened regarding who is eligible to own and openly carry guns in places like subways, airports, churches and other gathering places.
Adams said the city is discussing with legal experts to see what options are on the table.
The talks include trying to determine “how we would curtail the behavior in our transit system [and] around our schools,” the mayor said.
“We are really trying to figure out what powers we have based on a Supreme Court ruling – but we should all be concerned,” he added.
One option proposed by those opposed to ban reversal is carving out certain safety zones, meaning specific neighborhoods or public places could still maintain old parts of the state’s current prohibition.
Adams said any exception to the current rule could open the door to a legal minefield inviting further challenges.
“It opens the door, even if you carve out an area, that there are those who are going to sue based on the areas you carved out. And so this is going to be a legal battle for some time, but the lawyers are looking at it,” he said.
Other gun rights cases across the nation could also have influence over future decisions in New York. A US appeals court ruling issued Wednesday said California’s ban on selling semiautomatic weapons to people under 21 is unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, the NYPD is amplifying efforts to curb violence this summer, when crime is typically elevated.
The open carry talk came a day after Adams delivered an impassioned defense of the NYPD as he called for more help from the federal government, and New Yorkers themselves, to help crack down on what he called the city’s latest crime scourge – ghost guns.
“I feel like I’m in an alternate reality. We’re probably the only civilized country that sends their troops into battle and we criticize them every day. That’s what we do,” a frustrated Adams told reporters Wednesday at the NYPD’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan, referring to 131 firearms on the table in front of him.
The NYPD released data last week revealing the number of shootings are still nearly double pre-pandemic levels, despite a drop in overall gun violence.
Adams’ resurrection of the NYPD’s former plains clothes unit, in a new, uniformed anti-gun unit focused on removing illegal firearms form Gotham’s streets.
Ghost guns have also become a scourge for the city – Adams and NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell sent a letter to the feds on Wednesday, begging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to pull the firearms license of a company that’s been targeted as the country’s largest supplier of untraceable gun parts.