Armed security would be allowed in New York houses of worship under changes to the state's concealed carry law proposed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in her $227 billion budget plan.
Hochul's budget proposal released this week includes what were described as "technical" changes to the measure, approved last summer following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found the state's century-old concealed carry law was unconstitutional.
The proposed changes make a broad series of clarifications under the law of who can carry guns in public and where those firearms can be carried, according to budget language, addressing multiple concerns that have been raised with the gun law package for the last seven months.
The new concealed carry package restricts the carrying of firearms in a variety of public places as well as new requirements for obtaining a license. Multiple challenges have been filed in federal court to the law.
One of those challenges to the restriction on guns in houses of worship was filed by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a conservative organization.
"Essentially, the governor is backpedaling a little bit," said Jason McGuire, the group's executive director, in an interview Friday. "I believe we already have those rights. I believe the court has upheld those rights."
McGuire expects the broad parameters of the concealed carry measure will still be overturned.
"There's a right to self-defense," he said. "There's a right for churches to defend themselves. It was very clear then and it is now that it's unconstitutional."
Hochul's budget also seeks to clarify circumstances of when and where guns can be carried. A restrictions on guns in parks would exempt large areas like the Adirondack and Catskills state parks. Budget language also clarifies the use of guns on film and TV production sets and historical re-enactments as well as guns used ceremonially at funerals and memorial services.
The budget includes provisions to allow retired law enforcement officers who are qualified to carry concealed firearms to do so. And the proposed language would clarify when armed transit officers can carry their service weapons while on mass transit in New York City.
Hochul has previously maintained the concerns raised over the law -- such as carrying concealed firearms in the Adirondacks or for use in military funerals -- have been exaggerated by opponents.
The budget is due to pass by March 31.