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Eight blocks of Hell’s Kitchen will become part of the Times Square “Gun Free Zone” from Thursday, September 1. NYPD will be putting up signs at the entrance to the 25-block area to mark the gun-free status after New York City council this afternoon banned firearms in the Crossroads of the World.
Back in June, the Supreme Court overturned a New York law that limited people from carrying concealed handguns. Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams are both expected to hold press conferences on Wednesday to clarify how the state and city will deal with the fallout of the Supreme Court’s decision. The lawsuit, New York Rifle and Pistol Association vs. Bruen, was brought by two upstate gun owners who argued successfully that New York’s way of awarding permits to carry handguns in public was so restrictive it violated the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms” provision.
Local council member Erik Bottcher, whose district covers Times Square, described the situation as “surreal” at today’s hearing. “We’re talking about a New York where people are going to be carrying. I can’t really believe we’re having this conversation and it’s because of the Supreme Court,” he said.
The insides of buildings are not protected under this ruling. However, New York State law created in July this year already defines the following list of places as sensitive locations:
- Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol
- Daycare facilities, playgrounds and other locations where children gather
- Educational Institutions
- Emergency shelters, including domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters
- Entertainment venues
- Federal, state, and local government buildings
- Health and medical facilities
- Houses of worship
- Polling sites
- Public demonstrations and rallies
- Public transportation including subways and buses
- Times Square
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams urged at the council meeting that the signs be placed elsewhere too. “I’d like to see those signs in a lot more areas around the City of New York,” she said.
Meanwhile, NYPD will tomorrow start to install the temporary signs. ‘The signage will be placed at every entry point in the zone. This will be temporary. More permanent signage will be installed if, as expected, this bill becomes law,” said Robert Barrows, NYPD Executive Director of Legal Operations and Projects.
“Times Square is a dense, complex, and highly trafficked area and the state and city are right to protect this iconic piece of New York, while recognizing the particular interest of firearms licensees who live and work in the area,” said NYPD’s Barrows.
Tom Harris, President of Times Square Alliance, said at the hearing: “Times Square is back to pre-pandemic pedestrian crowding. Given the high and continuously growing levels of foot traffic, we appreciate the state’s recognition as a very dense area deserving an extra layer of public safety protection.”
Hell’s Kitchen resident Peter Shankman (who lives within the new gun-free zone) told us: “As a born and raised New York City resident, I never had to worry about guns. Never had to fear school shootings. Thanks to the unsupreme Court, I do now. While I’m glad Times Square is “gun free,” that I have to think “Am I leaving a gun-free zone?” is depressing as hell. These are things I never thought I’d ever have to think about living in New York City. It’s sad. Thanks, illegitimate justices. 😡”
“It’s critically important that the city reduces gun violence on our streets. But it’s unclear what putting up ‘Gun Free’ signs is going to accomplish. We need comprehensive criminal justice reforms to actually reduce gun violence. These signs seem like a distraction from the hard work of real reform,” said Jeremiah Johnson of the NYC New Liberals, who lives in the zone on 9th Avenue.
Meanwhile, John Soroka from Delphinium Home on W47th Street between 8/9th Avenue said: “we’re very happy that our beloved HK will now be a gun-free zone! It’s time for everyone to stand up for what creates a safer environment for ourselves, our neighbors, our neighborhood and for the city as a whole! WE CHOOSE HEARTS OVER GUNS! We’re all hoping that this is the first step of many to make NYC safer for everyone who lives here and visits from all over the world. We need to set an example. After what the city has been through these past few years, there are so MANY important issues that still need to be addressed to heal a city decimated by Covid. We’re just emerging from that now, but this is definitely a step in the right direction for us all!”
W42ST has reached out to local businesses and residents in the eight blocks of Hell’s Kitchen included in the zone and will update this story. Please comment below or send feedback to email@example.com to be included in this story.