Blakeman reluctantly supports 'safe zones'


The U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on a number of controversial topics as of late. But while a lot of attention is paid to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, another salient issue has seemingly been overshadowed: gun rights.

The court ruled last summer to expand access to concealed carry permits in a case originating here in New York, declaring unconstitutional laws they say could impede on Second Amendment rights — like people being required to show proper cause before they could carry a gun in public.

This latest case — New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen — loosened restrictions on concealed carry permits, ruling that both the Second and 14th amendments guarantee the rights to carry firearms publicly.

But Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers responded to that ruling with new laws requiring permit renewals, firearm safety training courses, and most of all, the creation of “safe zones” — places where firearms are not permitted at all.

Here in Nassau County, Bruce Blakeman says he’ll enforce laws, but only until they are ruled unconstitutional.

“We are very concerned about the restrictions that might make law-abiding citizens who choose to carry into criminals,” the county executive told reporters during a news conference last week.

“You can’t carry in government buildings. You can’t carry in places of worship. We have churches, synagogues and mosques in Nassau County where law-abiding citizens want guns for their own safety and the safety of their religious institutions.”

Blakeman believes the state’s new laws won’t stop dangerous individuals from carrying and using illegal guns, but rather will stop ordinary people to legally carry them.

Yet, Blakeman says he’s also not for a completely unrestricted Second Amendment, either.

“We would do background checks, regardless of what the state law requires,” the Republican said, if such actions were left strictly up to local governments. “We certainly want to see if someone has a propensity for criminality or violence. We would do social media checks as well.”

But not everyone inside the county government agrees with Blakeman’s stance. County Legislator Kevan Abrahams praised Hochul’s new law, saying it protects anyone who doesn’t want to be near guns in public spaces. The Democrat also believes it makes the job of police easier.

“I don’t think anyone is infringing on anyone’s Second Amendment rights,” the minority caucus leader said. “The Supreme Court just allowed them to enhance those rights. The state law is just saying that there should be safe zones, where I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to bring a gun unless their goal was to inflict harm.”

Abrahams named churches, malls and parks as places where he couldn’t imagine the need for a gun, and added he trusts law enforcement’s ability to protect the public from danger in those kinds of places.

“Removing safe zones makes the police’s job, which is already one of the toughest jobs in the country, even harder,” Abrahams said. “The safe zone legislation is, to me, just common sense.”

A federal judge last week put a temporary halt on the law — including a part it that would ban weapons in New York