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Local reaction to ‘gun’ ruling - Brooklyn officials debate impact of Supreme Court’s latest decision

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Some of Brooklyn’s elected leaders remain wary over the recent Supreme Court recent 5-4 decision upholding an individual’s Second Amendment right to keep a handgun for use in their home.

The court’s ruling overturned one of the strictest gun-control laws in the country, Washington, DC’s ban on handguns, and rejected the argument that the Amendment’s right for individuals to bear arms applied gun ownership only in connection to service of a militia. The majority opinion of the Court, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, acknowledged the problem of gun violence in the country but argued that “the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.”

Assemblymember Joseph Lentol believes that policymakers will still have opportunities to regulate the use and permitting of handguns, though the case could give ammunition for gun owners and the National Rifle Association to bring lawsuits to the Court.

“It is not the last word and it is not a definite decision on what rights individuals have to own a gun,” sai Lentol. “The Court just basically said that jurisdictions cannot prohibit individuals from owning a gun on one’s premises.”

Rep. Nydia Velazquez agreed, promising to work with local, state, and federal officials to continue to pass legislation aiming to regulate the use of illegal firearms in New York City.

“The Supreme Court ruling is very disappointing. With violent crimes involving firearms on the rise, we can’t let this recent action mean more violence in our streets,” said Congresswoman Velázquez said.

Unlike Washington, DC, New York does not have a law banning the issue of permits for individuals to keep a handgun for use in their home or place of business. The city’s dual permitting system allows for more stringent requirements and higher fees for individuals seeking to apply for a carry permit.

At a recent police ceremony Commissioner Raymond Kelly stated that the NYPD’s corporation counsel was currently proceeding with an interpretation and analysis of the decision before making any changes in crime prevention strategies.

“Now, what I’ve seen on a cursory examination, it shouldn’t effect common sense regulation and we believe we have common sense regulations here in the city. The Washington regulation was an absolute ban on handguns. We have a provision in our law that allows for a weapon in the home if you have a permit, a premises permit.”

The number of concealed carry permits issued for New York City dropped nearly fifty percent between 2006 and 2004, though 2516 carry permits were issued in 2007. Six times as many permits (14,985) were issued to New Yorkers who keep guns in their homes.

An NRA spokesman criticized the drop in gun permits in recent years due to higher fees, though Borough President Marty Markowitz applauded Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s variety of strategies employed in reducing the number of illegal guns available on the borough’s streets.

“I’m hopeful that gun regulation in our city can be further strengthened in the days ahead,” Markowitz said. “We must also do everything we can to elect presidential administrations in the coming cycles that will appoint Supreme Court judges who ‘get it’ that gun-control is absolutely essential to driving down tragic deaths in our urban centers and across this nation.”

Lentol believes that the Supreme Court’s decision did not address methods of reducing the flow of guns that come into the city illegally, which is likely the area that legislators will continue to focus on.

“Restricting the availability of illegal guns protects us from violent crimes and we should continue to do that,” said Lentol.

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