‘Gun-Free Zone’ Signs Fail to Stop Times Square Shooting

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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Lawful concealed carry has been banned in Times Square since shortly after the Supreme Court issued its decision in Bruen in June of 2022. When New York City Mayor Eric Adams signed the carry ban into law in October of that year, he declared that the prohibition meant that the millions of tourists who visit the Manhattan landmark would not have to “live in fear or distrust that someone is walking around with a gun ready to harm them”, an empty promise predicated on the idea that those who are intent on violence will somehow be persuaded to leave their guns behind because the city says so. 

The prohibition (along with New York’s refusal to recognize any out-of-state or upstate permits) has simply ensured that lawful gun owners are disarmed and unable to defend themselves with a firearm when criminals whip out their illegally possessed guns and start shooting.

This is exactly what Adams said wouldn’t happen once the “gun-free zone” signs went up around Times Square. As it turns out, tourists still have every reason to fear that armed and violent offenders are walking around ready to harm them. They just can’t shoot back if they’re targeted, either intentionally or because of the crook’s bad aim. 

Has this policy made anyone safer, besides the thugs who can scurry off into the subway system (another “gun-free zone” created after Bruen, by the way) to make their escape after shooting a stranger and blasting away at police? Absolutely not. This isn’t the first shooting to take place in Times Square since Adams declared the area off-limits to lawful carry, and it won’t be the last. When a 22-year-old was shot and killed outside of a Shake Shack last February, the New York Times found plenty of skepticism from Times Square workers and visitors about the policy and its impact on public safety. 

The mayor’s response to that shooting was typical anti-gun nonsense, declaring the violence “underscores the need to ensure Times Square remains a sensitive location” instead of acknowledging that the law failed to prevent a murder from taking place. I’m sure we’ll hear something similar from Adams this time around; the failure of the “gun-free zone” is somehow evidence of its importance to public safety, not proof of its impotence when it comes to preventing violence. 

The only thing this “sensitive place” designation is stopping is the lawful carrying of firearms. Criminals are operating with impunity, even attacking NYPD officers. It’s the lawful citizens living, working, and visiting Times Square who are bearing the brunt of this policy, and the mayor’s stale talking points, empty promises, and anti-2A policies aren’t making them any safer.  

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