Blue state leaders are grappling with drafting legislative solutions in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that jeopardized state laws requiring people to show a “good reason” to carry a firearm.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat in one of several directly affected states, signed an executive order Friday ordering all state departments and agencies to figure out ways to regulate how and when guns may be carried or displayed.
More specifically, he plans to work with lawmakers to expand “the number and types” of so-called sensitive places where the public carrying of a firearm would be banned. New York leaders said they are eyeing a similar strategy as they seek to remove weapons from as many places as possible while avoiding sweeping geographic bans that would violate the new ruling.
“While the Supreme Court may have waived common sense, it did uphold long-standing rules that have banned the carrying of firearms in certain sensitive locations, such as schools and government buildings,” Murphy said.
He’s worked out a long wish list of sensitive spaces, including stadiums and arenas, public transportation, and bars or restaurants serving alcohol. He also wants gun-ban rules for nurseries, long-term care centers and hospitals, as well as meeting places such as polling stations, courthouses and government offices.
Murphy also said guns should not be carried on private property unless the owner specifically allows it.
Thursday’s 6-3 Supreme Court ruling invalidated New York’s concealed transportation license law, requiring applicants to demonstrate a certain fear that justified the need to carry a gun. For example, living in a neighborhood with a high crime rate was not necessarily a good reason.
The ruling was overshadowed by another Supreme Court ruling Friday overturning the nationwide right to abortion in Roe v. Wade. But the fallout from the gun ruling, known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen, had a more direct impact on blue states and will spark legislative debates across the country.
California, Hawaii, Maryland and Massachusetts have similar gun laws on the bookshelf, and so does the District of Columbia, though its statute has been suspended under a 2017 court ruling.
These places, along with New York and New Jersey, make up about a quarter of the country’s population.
Attorneys general in affected states rushed to say they are brainstorming ways to rearrange their restrictions as they weather the ruling.
“Our office has been closely monitoring this issue. We are working with the governor and the legislature to promote legislation that is both constitutional and will maintain safety for Californians,” said California Attorney General Ron Bonta. “In the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, and with firearms on record, it is more important than ever to ensure that dangerous individuals are not allowed to carry concealed firearms.”
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh pledged to “determine its impact in our state, and we will continue to fight to protect the safety of Marylanders.”
“The epidemic of gun violence sweeping our nation daily demonstrates the folly of introducing more guns into this boiling cauldron,” he said.
Proponents of broader gun rights, meanwhile, see an opportunity.
State Sen. Edward Durr, a Republican who defeated the second most powerful Democrat in New Jersey in November, said the court’s decision paved the way for legislation that replaces the justified need with improved training.
“New Jersey’s highly restrictive hidden transportation law is clearly unconstitutional for the same reason that the New York law has just been repealed by the Supreme Court,” said Mr. Durr. “I have proposed to remove the justified need requirement from our hidden-carrying law that the United States Supreme Court finds violates the Second Amendment. Furthermore, I have suggested requiring extensive training to ensure that those who would carry in public are well versed in the safe handling, use and care of their firearms.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh said states can impose education requirements or additional background checks on licensees, but the criteria must be “objective.”
The bill of Mr. Durr may be in line with Conservative majority opinion but has big chances in the Democrat-controlled legislature in Trenton.
mr. Murphy indicated that his team will focus on limiting the range of firearms where they can.
New Jersey State Police Chief Patrick J. Callahan said on his first day as a trooper, a motorist shot another on the side of the highway after a traffic accident.
“I always thought, ‘What if that driver who did that shot didn’t have access to that gun? It probably would have ended with a few hand gestures and they were gone,” he said.
Garden State’s comments echoed a push outlined by New York government Kathy Hochul a day earlier.
Ms. Hochul, a Democrat who will be re-elected this year, said she wants to add new requirements to permits and expand the list of sensitive locations where weapons may be banned.
She is considering a special session in July to make legislative changes.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams said establishing new sensitive zones would be important but also challenging, given the verbiage in the judges’ decision.
“The Supreme Court says you can’t block all of Manhattan. That’s problematic,” he told NBC 4. “Especially if you look at the Times Square area. We had over 300-something-thousand people [who] visited Times Square last Monday. Our tourism is returning. And when you say you can’t create those public spaces or government areas as sensitive sites, it just makes it a huge challenge for our city, our metro system.”
Not everyone in New York is mad at the court.
The top GOP candidates for governor Andrew H. Giuliani and Rep. Lee Zeldin, hailed the decision as a victory for constitutional rights.
“While Kathy Hochul, the former A-rated NRA member of Congress, is becoming more of a walking identity crisis every day, she better not take her next step in this yet another attack on law-abiding New Yorkers,” said Mr. Zeldin. “If Hochul does, it will make it even more likely that I will be elected to her position in November because New Yorkers need and deserve a governor who will brazenly defend liberties, liberty and the Constitution.”
† Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.