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Supreme Court's gun decision has New York officials in Albany scrambling


The high court's decision striking down New York's handgun licensing restrictions has the state's Democratic leadership assessing its next moves. Earlier, before the Senate passed its package of modest gun safety measures, Rachel Martin spoke with New York's Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado for his reaction. She began by asking him about what consequences the ruling will have on the lives of New Yorkers.

ANTONIO DELGADO: Extreme risk for the community. We are going to be permitting, pursuant to this - potentially, what the Supreme Court is doing is saying, it's OK to carry concealed weapons in public spaces and in densely populated areas. There's a reason why this law was on the books, and the objective was to protect our communities from harm and to decrease the risk of danger that firearms pose in public spaces. The fact the Supreme Court would ultimately take this decision and do so totally divorced from reality is reckless. It is reckless, and it is fundamentally flawed. And so this is a decision here that is profoundly problematic, and it is a slap in the face for those of us who are trying to be responsive to the will of the people. These are unelected individuals deciding how states have deemed it appropriate to protect their constituencies.


What is the real-world implication of the ruling right now?

DELGADO: The real-world implications are that we now, as leaders in the state, have to figure out how to account for this pending change and what we can do to account for the fact that a law that has been on the books for a long while now is going to have to be revisited and reoriented in light of this court's ruling. That could mean creating new restrictions on sensitive locations where concealed-carry would not be allowed. That could mean changing the permitting process. That could mean creating a higher threshold for those who want to receive concealed-carry permits. It could mean implementing training requirements so that individuals who carry concealed firearms have specific firearm training. There's any number of things that I know the governor, in consultation with law enforcement and the mayors across the state and, of course, the state body, will be deciding how best to proceed.

MARTIN: But your next step is - what? - to try to pass laws that would specify where people can't carry concealed weapons? I mean, is there going to be a list of accepted areas - public transit, schools, bars, government offices?

DELGADO: That's being discussed, yes. There needs to be a collaborative conversation with not just those in the state body but, you know, law enforcement, our mayors, local elected officials, to understand how best to account for the fact that there are going to have to be some sensitive locations here, particularly when you're thinking about densely populated areas where we know the risk of harm and potential harm is of great magnitude.

MARTIN: So what is the message to New Yorkers right now, especially gun owners who are looking at this and wondering how it could affect their rights, their behavior, their - the sphere in which it is safe and legal to carry their firearm?

DELGADO: The court has rendered a ruling that has not been fully fleshed out. All the court has done is set the parameters. Now it's been kicked down for further review and analysis in terms of the actual application.

MARTIN: If your constituents are worried about this, should they be encouraged by the gun safety deal that's moving through the U.S. Senate?

DELGADO: They certainly should be encouraged by the fact that despite what's - we're experiencing right now across the country with increased gun violence and mass shootings, that we've reached a tipping point of some kind where we are seeing genuine bipartisan movement, albeit not as significant as one would hope, but still a good step moving in the right direction, which makes this decision by unelected officials all the more disturbing. We have a court that, in essence, is acting at the whims of gun manufacturers.

MARTIN: We will leave it there. Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado, we appreciate you taking the time. Thank you so much.

DELGADO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.