Questions are mounting about New York state's new rules restricting who can get a concealed carry permit and where firearms can be carried in New York as police wait for enforcement guidelines.
New York's Concealed Carry Improvement Act, signed hours after being introduced during an extraordinary session last week, prohibits firearms in sensitive places like airports, schools, parks, houses of worship, hospitals and medical facilities, among others. The law takes effect Sept. 1.
State Sen. Dan Stec, a Republican from Queensbury, represents the 130,000 New Yorkers who live in the Adirondack Park and is raising concerns people who reside there could face criminal charges depending how they transport their handgun, shotgun or rifle when they step foot on state land outside their property line.
"...a person leaves their private property and sets foot on state land with a weapon, they are committing a felony," Stec said. "That was not the case the last hundred years, it was not the case since the Adirondack Park was created."
But representatives with legislative leaders say the new law does not change the rules for law-abiding gun owners, including those who live in the state Forest Preserve.
"The bill language does not specifically reference the Forest Preserve, which is distinguished both in statute and the state constitution from all other public parks in New York state," according to the governor's office Wednesday.
The law did not change policy prohibiting open carry of shotguns, rifles or firearms.
Under the new law, a person with a concealed carry permit can store their weapon in a vehicle when visiting a location that will not allow it.
Stec expects confusion and issues when the law takes effect at the end of the summer.
"Lawyers within the executive and Legislature agree they created a mess," Stec said. "They're going to get questions, and I suspect they're going to be forced to amend their law because their law was sloppily written."
New York leaders have had to amend recent gun legislation after it was signed into law, including the bill to ban body armor signed by Gov. Hochul last month, or former Gov. Andrew Cuomo amending the SAFE Act in 2013 to make exceptions for retired law enforcement.
Michael Murphy, spokesman for the state Senate Democrats, stressed the law is not flawed and does not need to be changed, and the Republicans' narrative that the new law will open law-abiding gun owners up to criminal charges is a lie.
"The Republican Party now openly embraces lies and misconceptions," Murphy said. "This new legislation, reacting to an extremist Supreme Court, simply deals with the concealed carry law. New Yorkers have never been allowed to open carry on any parkland and that does not change. There are exceptions which remain the same for hunting. This law did not affect any hunting exceptions."
Implementation will be up to local and state law enforcement on a case-by-case basis.
Gov. Kathy Hochul's office is directing New York State Police and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to issue guidance to law enforcement personnel about how to interpret certain provisions of the legislation, which also expands eligibility requirements to apply for a permit, new storage requirements for firearms and allows state-conducted ammunition background checks.
Guidance will also include an assessment of how the state constitution applies to the new law, according to the governor's office.
Hochul directed the agencies to issue the guidance, but representatives with the governor's office would not specify a timeline when it would be finalized.
"Gov. Hochul signed landmark gun legislation that carefully regulates concealed carry permits to protect New Yorkers while respecting the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners," Jim Urso, Hochul's deputy communications director, said in a statement Wednesday. "The new law, which goes into effect September 1 and also includes exemptions for hunting and hunter education programs, changes nothing for lawful gun owners on both Forest Preserve and private lands within the blue line of the Adirondacks and Catskills. These areas are not considered ‘sensitive locations’ under the law, however there will be sensitive locations within these areas, like playgrounds and hospitals, consistent with locations outlined in the law for every other part of the state.”
Hochul called lawmakers back for an extraordinary session to pass the measure in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn New York's 100-year-old concealed carry law requiring an applicant to show probable cause for a permit.
"Gun legislation is a patchwork because we have very little uniform federal regulations," said Jennifer Mascia, a staff writer for The Trace, who has reported on U.S. gun violence and legislation over the last decade. "So it can get very tricky."
Mascia, who previously wrote for The New York Times, says lawmakers sometimes move too quickly in response to social pressure.
"The risk is always that you move too fast, you don't do your homework and then you've passed something in response to an event that really doesn't affect what you were hoping it would affect," she said. "What's important is the police's understanding of what this law is. Everything really hinges on that."
The state's Police Benevolent Association, or law enforcement labor union representing park police, have not received guidelines about how to interpret the law.
Many Republican state leaders have said they plan to challenge the law's constitutionality in court.
New York State Police did not respond to multiple requests for comment Wednesday.