Why Wasn’t the Times Square Shooter Charged With Carrying in a ‘Gun-Free’ Zone?

Jesus Alejandro Rivas Figueroa Times Square shooter shooting

When it comes to justifications for gun control laws and limits on rights, we almost always hear the same tired excuse: it’s for public safety. Supposedly, getting guns “off the street,” no matter who has them, is good for the public good. What about criminals? Even if they don’t follow the law, we’re somehow supposed to believe that banning guns from certain “sensitive” places will at least discourage them out of fear of additional prosecution.

But a recent story out of New York City puts the lie to all of that. As part of New York’s Bruen response bill, where the state hit back after the Supreme Court ruled “may issue” concealed carry permitting is unconstitutional, the state added tons of off-limits places to make life hard for anybody who bothers to get a carry permit. The “sensitive locations” approach designated huge portions of the state as off limits to lawful carry.

One of the places where they banned guns is Times Square. Lawmakers argue that it’s such a sensitive and somehow unusual place that they can’t possibly risk licensed individuals to carry  there. After all, the confluence of Broadway and 7th Avenue is where they drop the ball on New Year’s Eve and it draws people from all over the world.

Last week, the city had an opportunity to enforce the ban and make an example of a scofflaw. A 15-year-old ne’er-do-well illegal immigrant, Jesus Alejandro Rivas Figueroa, tried to rob a sports store in the Square and opened fire, hitting a tourist and then opening fire at pursuing cops.

Obviously, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon are crimes, and when caught, the teen was charged with attempted murder, criminal possession based on age, and assault. But there’s one thing authorities didn’t charge Figueroa with: carrying a gun in Times Square.

Times Square gun-free zone sign gun free
Courtesy X

Why? There are three reasons for this.

First, it was clear at the beginning that the legislative intent behind this law was to put the screws to the law-abiding gun owners who’d be able to now get New York carry permits thanks to Bruen. Make carrying a gun a legal minefield means fewer people will bother going through the process. The city and state never really intended to enforce the ban seriously. In this case, the violation is trivial compared to attempted murder and aggravated assault, so it holds almost zero deterrent or punitive value.

Another reason they won’t charge Figueroa — or probably anyone else — is that they aren’t at all sure it would stand up in court if challenged. Sure, they’ll probably find a sympathetic judge in New York or the Second Circuit to rubber stamp this kind of unconstitutional nonsense, but they’re not going to many find friends at the Supreme Court. The more they put this law out there and it’s appealed, the sooner it implodes.

Finally New York’s Bruen response law has already been challenged and is slowly headed toward oblivion. As you’d expect, gun owners and 2A rights organizations filed suit pretty quickly after it was signed into law, and different judges have struck down aspects of the law. In other words the Times Square gun ban is already highly questionable and likely to go down in flames.

At the end of the day, the story Figueroa opening fire in one of America’s busiest spots is just further proof that New York’s approach (along with other states like California that are in various stages of the “FAFO” post-Bruen legal process) has nothing to do with making the world a better or allegedly safer place. People who can pass a background check and get a carry permit aren’t risks to the public in any meaningful way. Others — like underage illegal immigrants and life-long recidivists — who carry illegally aren’t deterred by signs on street light poles.

In New York, they know that perfectly well. So when incidents like last week’s shooting inevitably happen, it’s our duty to rub their noses in it and point out the blinding hypocrisy.

7 Responses

  1. I have to visit a client in Manhatten in a couple of weeks. Several meetings over two days. Will need to drive across New Jersey to get there…deep into enemy territory….with no firearm.

    My only consolation will be the knish…fresh from the oven, slathered with brown mustard. Best knish in the world there in Manhatten.

    1. Don’t push your luck by thinking you can carry on the down-low in New Jersey, they will expend every effort to prosecute you to fullest extent that they can… 🙁

      1. I didn’t risk it. I unloaded my firearm, and left it in the trunk while I was in Jersey for a few hours. I got it back out at my first stop in PA.

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