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Judges Accused Of Making Up New Gun Rules As They Go Along

Democratic-led states where gun restrictions were upended by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling are pushing ahead with new measures to ban concealed weapons from places like hospitals, parks and houses of worship.

Lawmakers in several states are considering bills to replace their old permitting regimes, which gave state licensing officials wide latitude to deny permits unless a gun owner could provide sufficient justification for carrying a concealed weapon outside the home.

The 6-3 high court opinion said New York officials had too much discretion. The court set a new constitutional test for state and local gun-control measures: They must be consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearms regulation.

New York enacted a law a week after the ruling. It changed the criteria for obtaining a license—requiring in-person training as well as disclosure of social-media accounts—and prohibited guns in a number of what it said were sensitive places, the Wall Street Journal reports.

There are nine federal lawsuits challenging the new law. Judges have blocked enforcement of some of the sensitive-place restrictions.

U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled that some of New York’s newly crafted sensitive-place prohibitions were disproportionately burdensome compared with laws enacted in cities and states during the 19th century.

His Nov. 7 decision barred the state from enforcing bans on carrying firearms in houses of worship, public parks, zoos, bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, conference centers and theaters. He struck down a provision that banned guns in privately owned businesses or property unless the owners expressly allowed them. .

Andrew Willinger said the situation in New York showed the tricky nature of interpreting the Supreme Court decision. Suddaby ruled that firearms could be banned from playgrounds and libraries but not public parks or zoos.

“Judges are making up how to implement this test as they go along,” said Mr. Willinger. “There’s going to have to be some sort of broader framework on what factors do courts use as opposed to a nose count of historical laws.” The legal uncertainty in New York hasn’t deterred other jurisdictions from enacting similar laws. Maryland’s Montgomery County approved a law that would prohibit firearms within 100 yards of places of public assembly, including hospitals, schools, parks and places of worship. In Hawaii, the Honolulu City Council held the first hearing on a bill to prohibit firearms in parks and public transportation facilities, among other places.


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