New York (AFP) - A US federal judge blocked the enforcement of New York's new gun law Thursday, undermining for the second time this year the state's efforts to control a key factor in rising homicides.
The judge accepted a petition to place a temporary stay on the state law passed on July 1 and implemented on September 1 that tightly restricted carrying guns in "sensitive places" such as Times Square in New York City, bars, schools and playgrounds.
The new law was passed after the Supreme Court -- in a landmark ruling on June 23 -- overturned New York's previous gun laws, saying they unlawfully limited a person's right to carry a firearm in public.
But gun rights advocates said the new law, even though tailored to follow the Supreme Court ruling, in practice impinged on their constitutional rights to free speech and to possess firearms.
Judge Glenn Suddaby apparently agreed, awarding the gun rights advocates a stay, or temporary block, on the new law while their lawsuit over it proceeds.
The ruling is the latest chapter in the fight over the state's gun laws tightly limiting permission to carry a firearm outside the home.
In the newest version after the Supreme Court ruling, the state law required a person seeking a public handgun license to demonstrate "good moral character," a process that included vetting their social media accounts, providing four character references and taking 18 hours of firearms training.
It also set a long list of "sensitive locations" where firearms could not be carried.
The judge agreed that these requirements were unlawfully onerous and broad, and that Times Square and other sensitive locations did not merit special protection.
Suddaby said the new law still gives New York officials too much power to reject gun permit applicants by forcing them to go to lengths to prove they were of good moral character, rather than assuming they were in the absence of contradictory information.
"We are grateful to Judge Suddaby for his quick action to restore the right of the people to keep and bear arms," said Erich Pratt, the senior vice president of Gun Owners of America.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said they were weighing an appeal against the stay.
"I will continue to do everything in my power to combat the gun violence epidemic and protect New Yorkers," she said in a statement.
But the plaintiffs in the case, supported by Gun Owners of America, could then pursue their arguments to the Supreme Court, where the majority justices have already made clear they generally endorse a constitutional right to carry arms.