City Council sets boundaries where packing heat in Times Square is banned

Times Square, City Council
City Council Speaker Arienne Adams presiding over stated meeting. Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022.
Photo courtesy of John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit

No more packing heat in Times Square.

The City Council Wednesday passed a bill – Int. 602A – setting boundaries for the newly classified gun-free zone in Times Square. It passed by a 43 to 8 vote with the body’s five Republicans, and three Democrats, voting against it. The legislation defines exactly where licensed individuals can no longer carry a concealed firearm in the “Crossroads of the World.” 

The state legislature dubbed Times Square a “sensitive location” – where people could no longer carry concealed firearms – in a June special session, called by Governor Kathy Hochul, following a U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned New York’s long-standing strict rules for obtaining a concealed carry license.

The council defined the new gun-free zone as the blocks between West 40th Street and West 53rd Street, from south to north, with 6th and 8th Avenues as its east-west boundaries. Parts of 9th Avenue and the Port Authority Bus Terminal were also included.

“The New York State Legislature recently amended statewide firearm regulations to establish such sensitive locations as schools, government buildings, places or vehicles used for public transport and religious institutions,” said City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams in a news conference before the bill passed.

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams at pre-stated meeting press conference. Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Photo courtesy of Emil Cohen/NYC Council Media Unit.

“It also designates Time Square as determined and identified by the city as such a location,” she added. “This law became necessary after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the New York State law that placed strict restrictions on who could carry concealed firearms. The boundaries as defined by the bill largely follow the area identified as Time Square by the official New York City tourism website.”

There will be digital signs placed at the boundaries of the new “gun free zone” indicating where concealed firearms are no longer allowed under state law. Those caught carrying a concealed weapon in the gun-free-zone will be subject to arrest.

In addition to defining new sensitive locations in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the state legislature also tightened the concealed carry permitting process requiring applicants to show “good moral character.” Those wishing to get the licenses must do an in-person interview, submit five character references and a list of their social media accounts from the past three years.

The Times Square sensitive location legislation wasn’t the only gun violence related bill to pass the council Wednesday. The body also approved Int. 518-A – sponsored by Council Member Shaun Abreu (D-Manhattan), which directs the Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice (MOCJ) and the NYPD to do a study on stemming the flow of illegal guns into the city and submit a report to the speaker and the mayor on its findings. The bill passed by 50 votes, with one nay vote from Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island).

City Council Member Shaun Abreu in stated meeting. Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022. Photo courtesy of John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit.

“The bill we’re passing today will fight back against the manufacturers and traffickers who flood our streets with weapons,” Abreu said. “It will mandate a study and report on the locations of firearm seizures in the city, along with a type of firearm and its manufacturer.”

“Alongside the speaker’s bill to designate sensitive areas in New York City, this bill shows that the council was standing up and fighting back to the safety of New Yorkers,” he added.