NEW YORK — With New York’s new concealed weapons laws set to go into effect Thursday, the City Council has revealed the boundaries in Times Square that will be designated as gun-free zones.
As CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday, the zones will encompass a wide swath of the Broadway area.
Ever since the Supreme Court struck down New York State’s concealed carry law there has been intense discussion about how to protect Times Square, an iconic tourist destination that attracts hundreds of thousands of people every single day.
We now know that guns will not only be banned from the so-called “Crossroads of the World,” but many of the side streets where theaters and restaurants abound.
“The gun violence epidemic has worsened in recent years throughout the country and New York City has not evaded this crisis,” Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said.
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Adams explained the need to keep guns out of the area. She revealed for the first time the boundaries of the new Times Square “sensitive area,” enacted by the Legislature to increase public safety after the Supreme Court made it easier for New Yorkers to get legal permits to carry concealed weapons.
The new zone includes a wide rectangle from 40th Street to 53rd Street between Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue. Guns will also be banned from 40th Street to 48th Street between Eighth Avenue and Ninth Avenue.
Speaker Adams said she hoped the new zone “will help to stem any increased gun violence in our city. It’s important to acknowledge that legal and illegal guns alike cause violence.”
Officials say the need to protect Times Square, which in 2017 was the site of a car attack that killed one and injured 20, is paramount. It is not only an iconic symbol of New York City, but it is also filled with people, with 50 million tourists coming annually and 360,000 pedestrians passing through daily.
“Times Square is a dense, complex and highly trafficked area and the state and the city are right to act to protect this iconic piece of New York City,” said Robert Barrows, executive director of the NYPD‘s Legal Operations and Projects.
Watch Marcia Kramer’s report
City officials have already started warning people in Times Square that the area is a gun-free zone. Department of Transportation trucks with electric signs point out that anyone who brings a weapon to Times Square can be charged with a Class E felony, which is punishable by up to four years in jail.
There will also be posted warning signs.
“The signage will be placed at every entry point in the zone. There will be two signs on each side. This will be temporary. More permanent signage will be installed,” Barrows said.
And although there have been numerous news reports about the Supreme Court decision and the actions taken to blunt some of its effects, City Council members complained about the new rules going into effect so quickly.
“It is unfair not to have a grace period because the education portion of it can certainly not get out quickly enough for Sept. 1.,” Councilwoman Joann Ariola of Queens said.
“This feels very surreal to me, that we’re talking about a New York where people are going to be allowed to carry handguns in their pocket,” Councilmember Erik Bottcher said.
Many New Yorkers who spoke to CBS2’s Dick Brennan seem to support new restrictions on guns.
“Just police should have guns on the subway,” Astoria resident Savannah Flores said.
Bronx resident Efraim Hernandez said in churches, “I would not like to see a few people with guns on them.”
“Why should anyone without a permit for a gun be able to carry a gun to a school? That makes no sense,” Midtown resident Lance Car said.
But not everyone thinks the move to ban guns is an open-and-shut case.
“I mean, it honestly depends. It’s a 50/50 because some people might feel safe with the guns, some people might not feel safe,” East Flatbush resident Kayla Jarzine said.
“I think there are cases when there is a chance where there’s a good guy with a gun … But at the same time, you also have people who are criminals or maybe don’t have the best intentions,” Midtown East resident Dylan Darling said.
Both Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams are expected to hold news conferences Wednesday to highlight the new rules.
Times Square will not be the only “sensitive area.” Subways, schools, houses of worship, and other locations will also be designated as gun-free zones.