Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Tompkins/Cortland) announced that the Assembly passed a comprehensive package of legislation she sponsored designed to keep children safe from firearm accidents and ban the ownership of .50-caliber sniper weapons.
"When guns are allowed to fall into the wrong hands it is a tragedy," Lifton said. "This package of gun safety legislation addresses this issue and others – giving more protection to the public and punishing criminals who do not heed the law."
Protecting our children
Assemblywoman Lifton sponsored a package that would establish the Children’s Weapon Accident Prevention Act to make it a crime for a gun owner to unsafely store a weapon when it is used by a child in a shooting (A.673). The legislation also requires gun retailers to post notices explaining it is a crime in New York to leave guns accessible to children and requires the development of a weapons’ safety program to protect children from gun-related death or injury.
Lifton noted that the federal General Accounting Office estimates that about one-third of deaths from accidental gunshots could have been prevented if proper safety steps had been followed. According to the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 85 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds are strong enough to pull the trigger of a gun. Firearms are the 4th leading cause of accidental deaths among children ages 5 to 14, and the 3rd leading cause of accidental deaths among 15- to 24-year-olds.
"Children are our most vulnerable citizens and need to be protected," Lifton said. "By requiring the safe storage of guns and by punishing those who fail to obey we help to ensure that children are not hurt or killed because of the negligence of others and punish those who do not obey the law."
Cracking down on deadly military weapons
The Assembly passed a bill, which Lifton also sponsored, that would ban the possession, sale and use of .50-caliber weapons in New York State. The measure also imposes additional penalties for felonies committed with .50-caliber weapons (A.4471).
"The .50-caliber rifle is one of the most dangerous weapons in the U.S. military’s arsenal," Lifton said. "No one needs to use a .50-caliber rifle and there is no reason why a battlefield weapon should be sold in New York State."
Records obtained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms indicate that the largest manufacturer, the Barrett Company, made and sold over 2,800 .50-caliber rifles between 1987 and 1998. These weapons can be purchased at gun stores, over the Internet, at gun shows and through person-to-person sales.
Better protection for all New Yorkers
"New York families will only be protected if we take the proper steps to ensure their safety – and this legislation does that," Lifton said. "Firearms should not be found in the hands of children or criminals. I strongly urge the Senate and the governor to join us in passing this legislation – the safety of New York families is at stake."