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Secrecy surrounds gun proposals up for vote today

One day before the state Legislature is supposed to hold an extraordinary session, there is still no public disclosure exactly what legislators will debate today.

The extraordinary session, called for last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul, is scheduled to take place today in Albany. No legislation has been filed this week for the public to view, and as of Wednesday morning Assembly leadership still hadn’t posted a calendar for today’s session.

The Associated Press has reported that state officials are considering restrictions on concealed carry in “sensitive locations,” such as government buildings and bars. They’re also looking at implementing specific training for permit applicants, among other options.

Spectrum News, citing legislative sources, wrote on Wednesday that Hochul is also considering between 15 and 20 hours of new training for anyone pursuing a conceal carry permit, more extensive background check and tougher requirements for safe storage of guns in homes.

That’s all news to the Assembly’s minority whip, who as of Wednesday hadn’t seen a formal proposal or even an outline of the proposed legislation.

“From the most transparent governor in the history of New York?” Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, asked. “I haven’t even seen an outline. Have you? I haven’t even heard any proposed concepts. Nothing. But are you surprised? Who schedules a special session the day after the primary with no proposal whatsoever even out there. It’s unbelievable. It’s just pure, unadulterated politics.”

The Spectrum report also said lawmakers were meeting Wednesday in Albany in advance of today’s session. Goodell spoke to The Post-Journal from Jamestown, because Republicans had not been told of the Wednesday meetings.

“I didn’t get the memo,” Goodell joked. “Actually I did get the memo. It said we’d meet Thursday. There’s absolutely no consultation with the public. Let’s assume they had these ideas. Why aren’t we having a public hearing?”

Hochul called the extraordinary session late Friday after the Supreme Court in NYSRPA v. Bruen ruled the state’s requirement that residents provide justification for carrying a concealed handgun is unconstitutional. The ruling means Second Amendment rights extend outside the home. New York is one of seven states that require a cause or need to carry a concealed gun.

The state Legislature did pass, and Hochul quickly signed, legislation banning the purchase of semiautomatic rifles by anyone under the age of 21 by requiring such weapons to be licensed, prohibiting the purchase of body armor, changing the state’s red flag laws and requiring microstamping-enabled pistols to be sold in New York.

Reports from Albany-area media say there is an agreement between Hochul and Democratic legislators on a package of legislation to be discussed today. Goodell said he would like to see a focus paid to those who would use guns improperly rather than on legal gun owners who follow the state’s permitting processes. A 2020 analysis by the Rand Corporation of studies of “shall-issue” conceal carry permit laws and “may-issue” conceal permit laws found little difference in most types of crime regardless of how conceal carry permits are issued.

The study, “Effects of Concealed-Carry Laws on Violent Crime,” was updated in April 2020. It found that there is inconclusive evidence for the effect of shall-issue laws on total homicides, firearm homicides, robberies, assaults and rape and limited evidence that shall-issue laws may increase violent crime.

“Let’s start out with focusing on the fact there’s no bail for someone who uses a gun in a robbery or an assault,” Goodell said. “Those are non-bailable offenses in New York. Let’s talk about someone who has graduated from high school but isn’t yet 21 can use a gun in a crime and they’re treated as a child, not as an adult, and they end up with no criminal record, which means they presumably would be eligible for a gun permit once they turn 21. … Sure enough, crimes involving guns and kids under the age of 21 have gone up 18% since that bill was passed. Why don’t we look at the fact that Gov. Cuomo and this governor who seems to be a clone systematically shut down our mental health facilities across the state of New York, all of our inpatient facilities, right, and shut down about a dozen prisons. Well, that’s great, all those people are out on the street.”

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