Twenty-two years ago, a New York governor seized on a nationwide call for gun law changes in the wake of random violence on mass transit and a spate of school shootings.
A package of changes, including raising the age to obtain a pistol permit from 18 to 21, expanding a ban on certain rifles, requiring trigger locks and strengthening background checks, was put into place. That governor was Republican George Pataki, and several of his fellow Republicans in the state Legislature went along with the changes.
More than two decades later, gun policy has become part of the polarized political culture in the country and even in Democratic-heavy New York. A recent package of gun law changes this month did not garner bipartisan support in the Legislature and further action expected in the coming weeks is not expected to either.
The 6-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday to strike down New York's law for concealed handguns was praised by Republicans, including prominent members of Congress like Rep. Elise Stefanik and Claudia Tenney. Democrats, meanwhile, vowed further action.
New York's gun laws are among the most strict in the country. The state has enacted measures meant to keep guns away from people who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. Limits are in place on high-capacity magazines. Someone under the age of 21 can no longer possess a semiautomatic rifle under a recently approved law.
State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, in an interview on Thursday after the court's ruling was released, accused the six justices who favored overturning the concealed carry law of legislating from the bench while setting looser gun policy for a state that has chartered a different course.
"The number one issue in my community is gun violence," he said. "So when I go back to my community and say I can't can't keep you safe because the Supreme Court has a dfiferent view on things, that's not just frustrating for me, it's frusting for the community."
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday once again vowed to bring lawmakers back to Albany for a rare summertime session to take up further gun law changes.
New York officials and their staff had been anticipating the ruling, and have discussed ways of potentially responding that would still pass legal scrutiny, Myrie said.
This could include expanding gun-free zones to include sensitive areas like mass transit and also reviewing the gun permitting process.
"We're looking at what may or may not be sensitive locations, we're looking at developments in property law that might be able to assist us, we're looking at the permitting system itself, what applications might look like to comport with this opinion," Myrie said. "Make no mistake, we're going to respond. We're going to respond in a strong way and we're going to respond in a way that will be upheld in court."
Myrie spoke just after he left the 36th Street subway station in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, where a gunman earlier this spring opened fire on strap hangers in the middle of the morning.
The court's ruling came amid a rise in violence and voter concerns over crime. Hochul's administration has sought to intercept more illegal guns that flow in New York and used in more common crimes, while addressing the rarer mass shootings like the one in Buffalo a month ago.
For supporters of gun rights, the ruling is an affirmation of safety.
Conservative Party Chairman Gerard Kassar called the development a positive one for New Yorkers "who’ve been arbitrarily denied their Constitutional right to self-protection for decades."
"This ruling will give law-abiding New Yorkers the option of protecting themselves with a firearm in a state with significant crime issues," he said. "Violent criminals have never hesitated to carry guns illegally obtained. Maybe they’ll think twice now before committing additional crimes.”
For some legal advocates, however, the law struck down by the court was flawed.
The Legal Aid Society called the concealed carry requirements unfairly harming and arbitrarily enforced against people of color.
"As lawmakers consider next steps in response to this decision, let us be abundantly clear: it would amount to a historic disservice to both public safety and the best interests of the New Yorkers for Albany to reproduce a regulatory scheme that perpetuates the same disparate outcomes yielded under the previous law or to further criminalize gun ownership," the group said.