Governor Hochul: "I refuse to surrender my right as Governor to protect New Yorkers from gun violence or any other form of harm. We're not going backwards. They may think they can change our lives with the stroke of a pen, but we have pens too I intend to fully exercise those rights, working with our partners in the legislature to protect our freedoms and to keep New Yorkers safe."
Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul updated New Yorkers on the progress of the Extraordinary Session.
VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
How many of you thought you're back in college pulling all-nighters last night? Certainly my team has done an incredible job, and I want to thank them before I get started. These are the unsung heroes of our state government. People like Karen Persichilli Keogh, who's our Secretary. We also have Robin Golston is the Executive Deputy Secretary, who's been working so hard on our policies. The best legal minds in the state are led by Liz Fine, who's still working on this, making sure everything is airtight as we go into some uncharted territory here, but that's all right. Also, Micah Lasher and his entire policy team. Our communications team, led by Julie Wood, and also Hazel and Bryan, and my entire team, and Avi. They're just extraordinary individuals. So our legislative shop, our policy team, our communications team, all changed their plans this week, as did all of you. And I'm grateful for the media that is here today. And it's been tough. It's been tough but necessary, necessary.
So as you know, we're here because of a set of Supreme Court rulings that came down literally in the last day or two of session. And there, it was heartbreaking. It was a difficult week for our nation, and for the people we represent here in New York. And I would say with respect to the Dobbs decision, it was the biggest setback for women's rights in modern history. So what we had to do is adapt to the circumstances, recognize there's a lot of fear and anxiety and it was palpable.
I was out in subway stops and farmers markets, and just people coming up to me, young women literally just throwing their arms around my neck and just some of them sobbing. It was very hard for people to anticipate a post-Roe world, despite the fact that in New York, we feel protected, but there's always that underlying anxiety. "But what if Washington does something else? What if there's a change in leadership in our nation's capital?" So they're scared, they're scared. And they're looking to us for leaders. And for leadership. And I want to thank everyone who stepped up, my partners in state government. Extraordinary, the work that they did, Speaker Carl Heastie, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of the Senate, coming together to help us fight back.
And so we knew what we had to do. We had already called an extraordinary session, and they literally are called extraordinary sessions, to deal with the cessation of our right to deal with concealed carry guns, the way we choose to, after 100 years — I'll talk about that in a minute. But as part of our fighting back to protect women's reproductive freedoms here in the State of New York, at 2:00 AM I issued a proclamation to say that in this extraordinary session we'll not only deal with the issue of making changes in our law to deal with the conceal carry decision last week, but also to allow for there to be an amendment to our State Constitution, to protect the rights that we hold dear in the state, the right to reproductive freedom, the Equality Amendment, which Senator Liz Krueger has been a champion for years and years and years, finally received word at 2:00 am that there had been a conceptual agreement between the two Houses. And that's when we took the action to allow the consideration of this, during this timeframe that we have before us, which was late last night today, and it's being worked on now. And that basically prohibits discrimination on a number of reasons, including pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes.
And so that is going to protect reproductive health in the state of New York for generations to come. And we'll continue with the legislature, just get it over the finish line, which we expect, hopefully in the next few hours. I know this senate has been working hard, wrapping things up, and now the Assembly is in session. So, dealing with that, middle of the night, made the adjustment. Good news.
Happy to wrap that one up, but also the purpose we gathered, after I heard the Supreme Court decision last Thursday seems like an eternity ago. We heard that and I said, I will bring back this session. I will get the legislature back and we'll start up again and to adapt and make the changes necessary after the Supreme Court overturned our concealed carry law, again on the books. On the books in the state. Working well, working successfully for over 100 years.
And because of the stroke of a pen, they removed longstanding limitations that we were able to use in the State of New York to make smart decisions on who should have the right to carry a weapon. Literally concealed carry means a hidden weapon. And so we believe that gun laws like those have made New York State safer and have made us the fifth-lowest state in the nation in terms of firearm-related deaths.
Remember, there are 50 states. New York State with our sensible gun safety laws, including the concealed carry law we had on the books for a hundred years, had us as the fifth lowest in the nation in terms of firearm-related deaths. So the CDC national data shows that there are far fewer people killed in states like New York.
Well, we have strong gun laws compared to other states that have very limited, if any restrictions at all: who can receive guns, background checks, concealed carry opportunities. New York state has a small number, five per hundred thousand deaths from firearms. Now, how does that compare with other states? Mississippi has 28.6 deaths per hundred thousand; Louisiana, 26 per hundred thousand; Wyoming, 20. I can go on and on. So those are the states that have minimal gun safety restrictions. Minimal compared to us.
And what has happened? The whole argument that the more people who have weapons will stop the bad guys with a gun because a good guy has a gun. You've heard this argument. It doesn't work. The data shows that that is a false argument. We have the statistics that show that because the takeaway we get from those data is that you're four or five times more likely to be killed by guns in those states than you are in the State of New York.
And there's another important statistic that I want to share with you. And this is the one about states that perform their own background checks, something I'll be talking about as part of our new law, when it's passed. States that perform their own background checks. Now, right now, the federal government has its own background checks. Point of contact, point of sale. If you want to purchase a pistol, for example, you have to go through a very quick, it's very quick background check at the point of sale. So the states that actually are doing it on their own, and there I believe there are 13 states that do it on their own, instead of relying just on the federal database.
And what does this give you access to? When states do it on their own, they have a 27 percent reduction in firearm suicides and a 22 percent reduction overall in homicides. So what's clear is, there's also an opportunity for states that are serious about protecting their citizens like New York, where we can say, we should be able to take this over. We don't need the feds to do the work. We will do it here in the state of New York where we can have access to our state database as well as the federal database. So I just want to demonstrate again, through statistics because the data will tell the story. So we're talking about the need for more common-sense gun safety measures, not fewer.
Because think about this scenario, in light of what the Supreme Court decision just did, imagine you're on a crowded subway and you bang into somebody inadvertently, tempers flare, and the person that you banged into happens to be carrying a concealed weapon. Imagine you're in a bar, someone starts a fight, they have a concealed weapon on them. Imagine you're in Times Square visiting with your family. You're on the way to a show with your family and you're surrounded by people with concealed weapons. Does that make you feel more or less safe? I think we all know the answer to those questions.
And again, the numbers don't lie. According to data published two days ago by the National Bureau of Economic Research, there's a 29 percent increase in firearm violent crimes when citizens are given the right to carry handguns. I will repeat that. 29 percent increase in firearm violent crimes when citizens are given the right to carry handguns.
So that brings us here to today. As you know, we've already covered the fact that, just a couple weeks ago, we signed nation leading laws into place, the toughest gun laws in America. You have to be older to buy an AR-15, no longer an 18-year-old. We expanded our red flag laws and we're doing whatever it takes to protect our citizens.
But what the Supreme Court did in the Bruen decision is totally, absolutely, 100 percent out-of-touch with what new Yorkers want and what they need. So, over this last week, I mentioned round-the-clock, extraordinary team, extraordinary hard work, in preparation of an extraordinary session, my team has been working with our partners to craft gun safety legislation.
And as a result of our quick work and collaboration with my partners, again, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, our state will continue to keep New Yorkers safe from harm, even despite this setback from the Supreme Court. So, minutes ago, maybe probably an hour ago now, the Senate passed our proposed bill by vote of 43 to 20.
I've outlined, a couple days ago I outlined our conceptual agreements, but we've been fine tuning through the night, but now that they're about to become law, I want to go through them again.
We are creating a definitive list of sensitive locations where individuals will not be able to carry firearms. Common sense: schools, summer camps, libraries, daycares, parks, and playgrounds places children gather, theaters, museums, entertainment venues, places of worship for religious observation, polling places, educational institutions, and health and medical facilities, federal, state, local government buildings, homeless and domestic violence shelters, places where alcohol is consumed, restaurants, bars, public transportation, subway buses, airports, and at public demonstrations and rallies, and at Times Square.
We are making no open carry, no open carry the default position for private businesses. That means that any business, grocery store, retail, private home, place that wants to allow guns on their premises will have to demonstrate that and establish that they put a sign out there that says concealed carry guns are welcome here.
I don't know how many we'll see, but that's exactly, we're going to give them the option. Because what we're trying to do is protect the legitimate rights of private property owners by telling them they don't have to have someone walk into their establishment with a concealed weapon, ramping up their anxiety causing great concern, and they don't deserve that.
We are respecting private property owner rights. So, we're standing up for their rights, the business owner, the rights of their patrons, the rights of their employees, and the rights of the public.
We're also going to be expanding the disqualifying criteria for, for a permit. For example, if you have a history of dangerous behavior, you shouldn't be able to get a gun, full stop, period. It's just common sense. We're updating our safe storage laws in anticipation that more people because of this decision, we'll be able to be certified to have a concealed carry permit. And that means a lot of guns are transported in cars. Well guess what? The criminals know where guns are, and they can steal them. So, you have to be able to demonstrate you can lock them up in your car because a higher high percentage of stolen guns are taken from stolen cars, as well as in homes.
I mean, right now, the majority of, I think it's 67,000 permit owners in the State of New York have their permits limited to residential for their own protection, safety, their families.We are saying that we're changing the law from homes that have children 16 and under are required to store the guns in a safe place, to 18 year olds, again, because we are seeing a real increase in suicides from teenagers and the accessibility of unlocked up firearms in the home is a point of danger for them. So it's necessary.
We're also fixing something, we're updating our definition of body armor to include any form of soft or hard body armor that protects against gunfire and prohibiting the sale, except for those who need it for their profession. And finally, as I've said before, strengthening our gun laws, doesn't just mean adding new ones. We went back and looked at our laws, because I had a lot of questions about ammunition. Whatever happened to that ammunition database? Could there be a background check for ammunition? We're trying to find how to make sure we get things right here. And in our review, we determined that there's actually an old MOU that was signed related to ammunition sales after laws were passed the decade ago, it was an administration document between the prior administration and the Senate Republicans. And it blocked the State from taking critical measures to keep ammunition away from criminals.
So we are literally tearing it up and New York will now require and conduct background checks for all ammunition purchases. And we'll also be standing up an ammunition database, so law enforcement can identify and prosecute criminals and comparing ammunition records against records of other databases, which identifies people convicted of felonies. We're on top of this, we know this is nothing to do lawful gun owners, nothing to do with them at all. These are people who have been convicted of felonies or other categories of people that should be prohibited from firearms and ammunition. So I'm directing the State Police to move forward and work with our ITS team to move forward in establishing this, outside consultants, whatever's going to be necessary to get this done.
So, so in conclusion, after all that news, and thank you again for your patience. The Supreme Court's decisions were certainly setbacks. But we view them as only temporary setbacks, because I refuse, as I've said from day one, I refuse to surrender my right as Governor to protect New Yorkers from gun violence or any other form of harm. We're not going backwards. They may think they can change our lives with the stroke of a pen, but we have pens too, I give out a lot of pens. And that draws from the office of the Governor of the State of New York. And I intend to fully exercise those rights, working with our partners in the legislature to protect our freedoms and to keep New Yorkers safe.
So, some of you will have a delayed start to your 4th of July weekend. Let us not forget what this holiday means. It's to honor the founding of a great country, that cherish the rights of individuals, freedoms and liberty for all. I am standing here to protect freedom and liberty here in the State of New York. Protecting lives, protecting individual freedom of women to make decisions about their own bodies, because this to me is the embodiment of what it means to be an American. In honor, of our 4th of July weekend, I look forward to signing the legislation as soon as it's finished.
Contact the Governor’s Press Office
Contact us by phone:
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640