As you’ve acknowledged, a big part of public safety is the perception of safety. Some New Yorkers are celebrating this decision and, as you know, others are scared. What do you say to the New Yorkers who are nervous now? What does this decision actually mean for you at this moment?
Well, we must be honest and really reflect on this decision. The Supreme Court looked at our historical roles with guns in the country without taking into account the present crisis that we are facing and it’s going to endanger our future. This is a textbook case of theory colliding with reality. A gun in the hands of even a law-abiding citizen increases our danger and [is a] threat [to] public safety. And that is something [that] I believe the justices did not take into account.
READ MORE: ‘It just takes one irresponsible person’: SCOTUS gun ruling prompts fear, anger among New York City subway riders
The decision said weapons could still be prohibited in “sensitive places.” What would you define as a sensitive place?
Well, we have been meeting with our attorneys. We had a conversation with the governor and mayors of big cities in the state. And we have put together a coalition that will look at how we use our pre-existing laws to really, sort of, contain this crisis that the Supreme Court has created. A sensitive location, according to the attorneys, can be a school, a governmental building, but there are far too many other locations that are not in the area of a sensitive location. The Supreme Court clearly acknowledged you cannot state all of Manhattan [as a sensitive location]. So when you look at a place like Times Square. Last Monday, we had over 350,000 people visiting Times Square. Let’s say just a third of them were carrying a gun. One person shoots a gun, everyone grabs for their gun. This is not Dodge city. This is New York City and they’re not taking into account a densely populated city, like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc.
Does this decision add more urgency to your plan to install weapons detectors at subway entrances? And are you considering the idea of putting them anywhere else?
Yes it does. Because remember the goal of having a weapons detector, particularly a gun detector, is to identify if someone is carrying a gun. We knew there was only a limited number of people that had carry permits [in New York City]. With this new ruling, the theory that only those who carry have carry permits; it goes out the window. And to be able to identify who’s carrying a gun legally or illegally, it’s going to run into constitutional issues. Can you stop someone if you have identified them as carrying a gun and question them? There are many legal issues that are going to unfold because of this decision by the Supreme Court.
Will the NYPD undergo new training now to prepare for more encounters with people who may be armed? And would they ask to see someone’s carry permit and to ensure that when they do seize guns through searches or stop and frisk, that their cases stand up in court.
And that’s a great question. Because now we’re going to have to evaluate [if there is] such a thing as a carry permit. Can we determine to have any type of records if someone carries a gun? All of these things are being questioned. Remember, this case was born out of New York state due to a question about a carry permit. And now all of this is up for rulings. There’s going to be layers of court procedures that’s going to follow. And that’s what our attorneys are looking at now to see how…we move forward. And how do we use our laws here in the city and state to restrict the abuse of this ruling that was handed down by the Supreme Court.
READ MORE: New Yorkers vent their frustrations over Supreme Court’s gun ruling at Union Square rally
Mr. Mayor, we’ve heard you and many other elected officials and others talk about the proliferation of guns and how easy it is to get them. How do you expect New Yorkers, for example, to protect themselves? And I go back to the April 12th train shooting in Sunset Park that sent defenseless subway riders ducking, hiding, running. Would it not have made sense for one of them to have had a gun to respond to the shooter, to minimize the harm?
And that’s a great question, because in theory, that’s a good plan. In reality, that is a disaster. If you had a crowded subway train, as we saw with the shooter, and you had several people with guns—several, not one but several—that were allowed to carry guns, who knew through that cloud of the smoke gas, who knew who what shooting? Who would have known who to shoot and not to shoot? Everyone pulling out their guns or shooting where they think they should be shooting is creating a dangerous environment. That is a challenge of a city where you have large congregate settings. What happens is that one person pulls out a gun [and] starts shooting, [then] everyone pulls out a gun, [and] we move from New York City into Dodge City. And that is not what we need in a city like New York.