New York lawmakers address abortion, gun restrictions in special sleep-deprived session

After experiencing delays returning to Albany at the governor’s behest, state lawmakers are on track to approve new concealed firearms laws for New York City and add protections against abortion to the state constitution. On Friday, the state Senate approved the Equality Amendment and Firearms Act to create new concealed carry requirements. The Assembly was expected to follow suit later in the day.

Following the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that repealed New York City’s century-old law governing concealed carry firearms permits, Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday reminded the state legislature in Albany for what is called a “special session” to respond to the decision. She set the agenda with a narrow focus on firearms. But lawmakers and abortion rights advocates have also been pushing for approval of a state constitutional amendment that would guarantee a person’s right to an abortion, as well as contraception, and further strengthen d other protections based on sex, gender, religion, ethnic origin and sexual orientation. It was not passed before the state legislature rose for the summer in early June due to religious liberty concerns.

After delays, attention turns to abortion

Early Friday morning, after the previous day had ended without a vote or even wording of a gun bill, Hochul formally expanded the session’s agenda to include the equality amendment. Last-minute negotiations over a bill to expand the mayor’s control over New York’s schools had contributed to the delays with a midnight deadline looming for Hochul to sign the bill. But with that resolved, she and lawmakers moved forward with an additional focus for the session. “Recent Supreme Court rulings have threatened the rights of New Yorkers to make decisions about their own bodies and our right to protect New Yorkers from gun violence, but we refuse to sit idly by and must act. “, she said in a statement. Several hours later, the Legislature introduced a new Equality Amendment Bill with language similar to that already introduced by State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright. It passed the state Senate by a 49-14 margin, with seven Republicans voting in favour.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​applauded her chamber’s action on the amendment, which will also have to pass next year before heading to voters for approval. “I am happy that we are able to at least guarantee the rights of people, in addition to covering so many categories of people who are not covered by our (state) constitution,” Stewart-Cousins ​​told the reporters in Albany. She added that state legislatures have an obligation “to assert (their) power to protect their citizens.” Speaking to reporters, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said his chamber would approve the amendment later today.

Republicans lament proposed gun restrictions

Unsurprisingly, legislation to enact new laws allowing concealed carry in New York has sparked greater controversy as senators debated restrictions that would impose stricter requirements for receiving a license, including additional training and an exam. of social media activity, and would create many “hot spots”. where people can’t wear. These locations include schools, public transportation, the entirety of Times Square, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, places of worship, and protests, among many other places. The bill would also require owners of private businesses to affirmatively agree to allow firearms on their premises, with the default set that firearms are not permitted. This particularly got on the nerves of Republicans. State Sen. Dan Stec argued that this would place targets on certain properties that are easier to steal and make it harder for legal gun owners to protect themselves. “The idea that there should be a presumption that it’s not allowed is contrary to the Second Amendment,” Stec told the Senate.

Heastie, however, expressed confidence that the legislation will withstand judicial scrutiny. “Everything can be challenged in court,” he told reporters. “We believe that what we have done in consultation with the Senate will pass constitutional scrutiny.” Stewart-Cousins ​​expressed similar sentiments, saying the delay in approving the legislation was in part due to her and lawmakers doing their “due diligence.” The measure passed in the state Senate with a party-line vote on Thursday afternoon. “Concealed carry cannot be a more basic right than your own bodily autonomy,” Stewart-Cousins ​​said, referring to the equality amendment while voting on the gun bill.

In addition to the concealed carry provisions, the legislation also extends the recently signed law banning certain types of life jackets following the Buffalo mass shooting that left 10 people dead at a Tops supermarket. The new law would not have applied to the type of body armor the shooter purchased and used in the attack, drawing criticism for the measure. The new language expands the definition to include more forms of body armor and body armor.

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