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.

Brian Barrows NYPD Gun Free Zone Times Square
NYPD’s Brian Barrows presents the Gun Free Zone signs at today’s NYC Council Committee hearing. Photo: John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit

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.

Times Square Gun Free Zone
The Times Square Gun Free Zone will go into operation from Thursday, September 1. Photo montage: W42ST

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:

  • Airports
  • Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol
  • Courthouses
  • 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
  • Libraries
  • 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.

Erik Bottcher
Times Square council member Erik Bottcher speaking at today’s hearing about the gun free zone. Photo: John McCarten/NYC Council Media Unit

“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 phil@w42st.com to be included in this story.

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  1. Thank you for covering this — I don’t think there is much widespread attention to this law change that’s happening this week, and obviously it could majorly impact us all.
    There is some vague language around sensitive locations — would gyms, parks, museums, corporate workplaces, bars/restaurants that don’t serve alcohol be covered? Are the signs really going to do anything? What about places that don’t have them — if there is gun violence, are they just going to be less scrutinized by law enforcement?

    Just feeling very sick about all of this … I love this city, and I can’t believe we have to start thinking of it in protected zones.

  2. What about 10th & 11th avenues and the side streets between them! They don’t count! Will we be walking into shootouts every day!

  3. This is all theatre. This is for the illusion so tourists feels safe. The shootings and killings in our neighborhood and across the city were done by criminals with illegal guns.Guns that are now very easily obtained on the street for very little money. You think these criminals care about signs?? Not when the consequences are so minimal. Its changes to the consequences that should be the focus.The sign is only telling legal permitted gun owners they cannot carry in these places. Criminals with no respect for life dont care about signs.

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