New NY State Gun Laws May Affect Local Broadcasters

Last week, Governor Hochul called for an emergency legislative session to address the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down New York’s conceal and carry laws. Previously, to obtain a permit to conceal and carry a firearm in New York, an applicant had to demonstrate “a special need for self-defense.” A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court found this too restrictive. In response, Governor Hochul and the legislature passed new gun control laws last week.

Body Vests/Armor: The new law restricts the purchase and sale of body armor to specific professions. The law authorizes the NY Secretary of State the authority to list additional professions that will be eligible to purchase body armor/vests. We believe broadcast journalists, news crews, and security personnel should be able to purchase body armor. This includes radio and television entertainment shows that are produced in a public place. We have already filed a request with the Governor and Secretary of State. The Secretary of state has 30 days to approve the request.

Guns in Your Building: Some NYSBA members have expressed concern about guns entering their buildings. We believe stations will have the ability to restrict guns from entering your buildings. First, the legislation allows entities to prohibit guns on private property. The law states:

“Criminal possession of a weapon in a prohibited area will be a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.  In addition, there will be a separate Class E felony for criminal possession of a weapon in private property where the owner has not explicitly authorized weapons on the premises.”

Second, the law contains specific restrictions for entertainment venues. Weapons are not permitted in theaters, stadiums, arenas, racetracks, museums, amusement parks, performance venues, concerts, exhibits, conference centers, banquet halls, casinos, and venues for athletic games or contests. If your station has a place for a studio audience, you will certainly qualify. Moreover, we think you can make the argument that a TV or radio station/studio is a performance venue.

Even if you are hosting an event outside on a public sidewalk, you may also restrict guns by posting a notice. The new law reads: “Any public sidewalk restricted from access for a permitted special event that has signage.”

In summary, we believe a station can restrict guns from entering your station. Of course, this decision is up to the station.

Our memo to the Governor and Secretary of State regarding the need for stations to obtain body armor can be found here.