The Legal Battles Over “Gun-Free Zones”

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posted on October 21, 2022
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Yuki Iwamura/AP

Welcome to the cognitive dissonance zone. They call it the “Gun Free Zone.” 

The hit TV show “The Twilight Zone” (1959-1964) once told us in its terse intro about entering “a land of both shadow and substance,” but it had nothing on today’s so-called “gun-free zone,” which requires a complete suspension of reality. We are supposed to ignore the fact that, as the Crime Prevention Research Center determined, 94% of mass murderers chose “gun-free zones” to commit their crimes in the U.S. between 1950 and 2019, as they wanted to prey on unarmed victims. We are also supposed to believe the lie that the good people, such as lawfully armed citizens, are actually the bad guys. 

Last summer, New York City’s Times Square became the epicenter for the “gun-free zone” delusion. Times Square, of course, has effectively been a law-abiding citizens’ “gun-free zone” for a long time, but in this post-NYSRPA v. Bruen America, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that citizens’ Second Amendment rights do travel with them outside of their homes, “gun-free zone” signs were put up around Times Square to let the few residents who have permits to carry concealed in New York City know their rights stop at all the corners leading to this Midtown Manhattan intersection of streets and avenues, a place that hundreds of thousands of people pass through every day.

According to “The Concealed Carry Improvement Act,” a law rushed through the New York State legislature last June by anti-Second Amendment lawmakers in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, American citizens’ rights in New York state also stop at subway turnstiles, at church doors, at any business door that doesn’t specifically say a person can carry a firearm, at the entrances to parks and pretty much anywhere else a citizen might want to carry for self-defense. 

But, in October, a federal judge in Syracuse, N.Y., did partially block this expansive gun-control law. U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled that several provisions of the state’s new gun-control law are unconstitutional. Suddaby parried down the list of “sensitive locations” the government can deem to be law-abiding-gun-owner-free zones. is judge also blocked provisions of the law outlining new requirements for background checks for gun permits, including a requirement for any citizen who dares to apply for their rights to give up all the info they’ve ever said or written via their social-media accounts. is judge also rejected a provision in the law that required an applicant to demonstrate they have “good moral character,” a requirement that a licensing official could use in a politically partisan manner.

Judge Suddaby also did away with the restriction that armed citizens can only carry in stores that specifically say they can carry, writing, “The State of New York is now making a decision for private property owners that they are perfectly able to make for themselves.”

However, soon after Judge Suddaby’s ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the state can still enforce “The Concealed Carry Improvement Act” as the state appeals Suddaby’s ruling. The battle for citizens’ rights to carry outside their homes was still underway in court.

The thing is, a look at high-profile crimes in Times Square show what has really been occurring in what anti-Second Amendment legislators want to be the pinnacle of the state’s “gun-free zones;" for example, on May 9, 2021, at W. 45th St. and Broadway, a four-year-old boy who was standing in line to buy a toy was wounded in a shooting the police said was the result of a street-vendor turf war; on June 27, 2021, a 16-year-old street dancer shot at a rival near W. 45th St. and Seventh Ave., wounding a U.S. Marine as he and his family walked by; and, on July 14, 2021, a man the New York Daily News described as a “rapper” shot several times at a motorcyclist at Seventh Ave. and W. 41st St.—thankfully, no one was hit in that illegal-gun incident.

If any of those alleged culprits had permits to carry concealed, it hasn’t been reported by the New York media. Other crimes—rapes, robberies, assaults—have become more common in New York City in recent years, but no statistic shows that armed citizens who are lawfully carrying have been causing these crimes.

Though the problem is clearly not normal citizens carrying concealed for self-defense purposes, New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) and other local politicians keep pushing the fiction, of which the “gun-free zone” is one part, that guns and American freedom are somehow, and all of a sudden, causing a spike in violent crime.

“We need fewer people carrying guns—not more,” tweeted Adams, who also tweeted, “We don’t make guns in New York City. It’s illegal to carry them. But the iron pipeline is allowing irresponsible laws in other states to bring weapons of war to our streets.”

Perhaps the funniest reply on Twitter to this tweet from Mayor Adams was: “Yeah but The Iron Pipeline was arrested and [Manhattan District Attorney Alvin] Bragg let it go.”

Any reasonable person who has a basic understanding of statistics—or even Mayor Adams, for that matter— could tell you that lawfully armed citizens are not committing these crimes. The crimes are being committed by a criminal class that, even when found by police and arrested, prosecutors too often opt not to prosecute or that cash-free bail policies often let walk as they await a court hearing.

But, back in the cognitive dissonance necessary to justify these "gun-free zones," we are told to suspend common-sense fact checks and to hold the freedom of good citizens responsible for crime.

The NRA has challenged New York’s new “sensitive-places” restrictions in court. As this is a struggle for freedom that will impact all of America, we will keep you up to date on this and related cases.

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