A Potential Loosening of New York’s Gun Restrictions Looms

Second Amendment

Good morning. It’s Tuesday. We’ll look at why gun restrictions in New York could be loosened if the Supreme Court strikes down a state law that gives officials discretion over permits for handguns. We’ll also look at tonight’s debate in the Democratic race for governor.

Yesterday we looked at a state gun law that allows the authorities to remove weapons from the home of someone who has made a threat.

Today our focus is on a different gun law in New York State, one that gives local officials discretion over who can carry a handgun. Officials are bracing for the U. S. Supreme Court to strike it down — and for the consequences in cities like New York, where a jump in gun crimes accompanied the pandemic.

My colleague Jonah E. Bromwich writes that if the court invalidates the New York law, obtaining a handgun legally could become far easier.

“A lot more people are going to now want to go out and get guns — and for all the wrong reasons,” Richard Aborn, the president of the nonprofit Citizens Crime Commission, told Jonah. “I have people telling me they decided to get a gun that I never dreamed would go out and get a gun. They’re not going to use it illegally, but they’re feeling this need to arm themselves in a way that I’ve not seen before.”

Aborn also warned that minor confrontations could turn deadly if more New Yorkers arm themselves.

The case before the court was brought by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association. The case involves two men from upstate New York who sought unrestricted licenses to carry handguns.

They were given restricted licenses, allowing them to carry guns for hunting and target shooting; one of them was also allowed to carry a gun to and from work. But they were denied unrestricted licenses because they did not show “proper cause” as defined by the law, which says that someone seeking such a permit must demonstrate a heightened need to carry a gun.

Lawyers for the rifle and pistol association challenged the process, arguing that the denial was unconstitutional under recent decisions by the court involving the Second Amendment.

Aidan Johnston, the director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, a pro-gun lobbying group, echoed the argument that the law gives local officials too much latitude last week as he told Jonah, “New York’s concerns are unfounded and violate our rights and leave New Yorkers disarmed in the face of evil.”

The court could rule that New York’s current standard is too strict or too vague. Either way, New York officials would probably respond by drafting a new law that met the ruling’s specifications. Gov. Kathy Hochul has already said she would consider calling a special session of the State Legislature if the court were to invalidate the statute.


The day will start out mostly sunny with temperatures near the high 70s. Then expect a chance of showers and thunderstorms late at night, with temps dropping to the high 60s.


In effect until June 20 (Juneteenth).


Tonight’s one-hour debate, originating from WCBS-TV (Channel 2 in New York), will give Gov. Kathy Hochul and her two main party rivals — Representative Thomas Suozzi of Long Island and Jumaane Williams, New York City’s public advocate — an opportunity to introduce themselves. It will also give Suozzi and Williams a chance to try out their arguments against Hochul.

With the June 28 primary only three weeks away, she has a commanding lead in the polls.

[What to Watch for as Hochul Faces Rivals in N.Y. Governor’s Debate]

My colleague Grace Ashford says one issue that’s sure to come up is crime. Even before the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and elsewhere, dealing with gun violence was a priority for New York politicians. Suozzi has demanded a rollback of recent changes to New York’s bail laws. His 15-point plan for fighting crime includes giving judges discretion in assessing a defendant’s “dangerousness” when setting bail.

Hochul made similar proposals during the most recent legislative session, winning some changes but encountering opposition to others in the left-leaning Legislature.

Williams has argued for keeping the changes to the bail law, saying that state agencies and community groups can “co-create” public safety if provided with the appropriate funding.

Mike Varley’s plan was to walk 7,000 miles in New York City — 26.2 miles a day, five days a week, for a year. Rating bagel shops along the way was an afterthought.

Off he went in June 2020 with Jessi Highet, a clothing designer who dyes her own textiles. More about her later.

They trudged. They strutted. They tiptoed.

“Pretty early on, I recognized that we were going to be in every neighborhood in New York City,” he said, “and I was going to have to eat.”

He figured that every neighborhood had a bagel store and that he could work off the calories.

“The only way it’s appropriate for somebody to be eating three bagels a week is if you’re walking five marathons a week,” he said.

They tramped. They traipsed. They strolled.

The idea to do five marathon walks a week in New York came up while they were on vacation, walking from the Pacific Ocean to Olympia, Wash. He proposed the idea.

“She said, predictably, ‘You’re crazy,’” he recalled. This was not what she said when he proposed something else. More about that later, too.

Back home in Bushwick, they spent 18 months mapping out a year’s worth of walks. He quit his job as a producer at a video-game company in February 2020, expecting to start looping around the city in March. The pandemic shutdown postponed the first step 90 days.

They ambled. They rambled. They shambled.

He developed his own system for rating bagels. “My credentials as a food person are limited to an enthusiasm for bagels, really,” he said. “I have no culinary diplomas or anything like that.”

After 7,024 miles, he had reviews in on 155 bagel stores — not enough, he decided. “It wasn’t that we didn’t hit the neighborhoods,” he said, “it was that we didn’t necessarily hit the bagel stores.” He set out on a second marathon that he called “a gorge-fest,” visiting 55 more bagel shops.

The highest score went to P & C Bagels in Middle Village, Queens. Here is how Varley described the bagel he had there: “The outside was crusty. The inside was doughy. The topping coverage was dense. The salt ratio was excellent.”

But he acknowledged that it might not necessarily be everybody’s favorite. “Bagels are so good in New York City that anything above a 4 in my system has a possibility of being the best for you if it’s the place where they know your name,” he said.

They plodded. They pranced. And, on the last day of their walkathon, they got married, in Marine Park in Brooklyn, after going the usual distance on foot. They planned stops along the way where guests could join them — including one at a bar in Bushwick where bagels were catered from P & C.

Dear Diary:

Rushing wearily onto a packed 6 train after a long day, I spotted an empty seat across from the door. I beelined toward it, hoping no one else would get there first.

Feeling smug, I sat down and began to look around. Glancing at the man sitting next to me, I saw that he had what appeared to be an albino snake wrapped around his neck. Its head was resting on one of the man’s arms and facing me.

I stared in disbelief, wondering if it was a real snake because it wasn’t moving.

Just then, it flicked its tongue out at me.

You have never seen anyone jump up so fast and move as far as possible.

No wonder no one had taken the seat.

— Anna Sanidad

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

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