(EFE).- New York City authorities on Wednesday began posting temporary signs declaring Times Square, a popular and heavily trafficked shopping and tourist zone, a “Gun Free Zone,” as per a state law that will enter into force on Sept. 1.
Police began using zip ties to place temporary signs on street poles but on Thursday, digital street signs will be set up throughout the area.
New York authorities are going to be informing the public that certain specific areas are “Gun Free Zones,” after a quickly-passed state law declared certain zones to be “sensitive” sites where the general public may not carry concealed weapons, including parks, schools, universities, libraries, churches, theaters, the subway system, bars and other areas, according to legislation approved on July 1 and signed just hours later by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
The law left in the hands of the City Council the task of defining the limits of what is considered to be Times Square, which is visited by more than 300,000 people each day and some 50 million each year, and that is a bill that must be voted on by the city legislature.
The new state law comes in response to the US Supreme Court ruling in late June allowing people to carry concealed firearms in public nationwide, thus overturning a 1973 New York state law, after a case brought by Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, and the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, an affiliate of the NRA.
The New York law that takes effect on Thursday is an attempt to limit where guns can be legally carried.
According to the New York City Hall, the signs with the message “Times Square, Gun Free Zone” will be accompanied by a drawing of a pistol with a superimposed red prohibition circle and will be placed between 6th and 8th Avenues and between 40th and 53rd Streets, in the western part of the city and on neighboring streets, between 8th and 9th Avenues and 40th and 48th Streets, an area which also includes the Port Authority bus terminal.
Those boundaries are included in the proposal that is being evaluated by the Council to define the area to be designated Gun Free Zones and up until then any signs placed in the area will be temporary.
New York Mayor Eric Adams, in his first public remarks on the new measure, said that he never thought he’d see the day when the general public were allowed to carry firearms outside the home in New York State, adding that so far this year more than 4,700 firearms have been seized in the city and the number of arrests linked to weapons violations has been rising.
In a joint press conference with Hochul and other officials, Adams said that this was a “surrealist” moment that was being met with a real response.
He also said that anyone violating the “gun free zone” order could face jail time.
The city on Thursday will also launch a Web site where people can find answers to frequently asked questions in a move to educate New Yorkers about the new law.
Adams, who came into office with a clear message that he would fight against violence in the Big Apple, criticized the Supreme Court’s “radical” ruling and said that it is feeding the armed violence that the US is experiencing.
The gun free zone law tightens restrictions for obtaining a permit to carry a weapon. Already, New York requires stringent background checks for people seeking to purchase firearms, but the expanded checks will include examining a person’s activity for the past three years on the social networks and will require all gun purchasers to take a 16-hour training course, including live-fire exercises, to ensure that they have the ability and the knowledge necessary to carry and store firearms, among other requirements.
On Sept. 4, another law will enter into effect increasing from 18 to 21 the age at which a person can purchase a semi-automatic weapon, legislation approved after the massacre carried out in May in Buffalo, New York, that left 10 people dead and three wounded.
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