I’m sure many residents know my minority colleagues and I in the Assembly recently pushed for – and achieved – new laws that address illegal gun trafficking in New York and create harsher penalties for people convicted of harming police officers. The victory came after weeks of garnering support from people like you from all over the state who felt the existing laws left too many ways for criminals to be let off with a simple “slap on the wrist.”
The illegal gun-trafficking law changes the way we classify crimes involving the possession, sale and use of illegal guns. Criminals no longer will avoid jail time merely by restricting the number of guns they sell or possess. Now, the illegal sale of just one gun is a violent felony offense.
The minimum penalty for the murder of a police officer or other public safety employee increases to between 30 and 40 years in prison, a boost from the old sentence of a maximum of 25 years.
Despite all the support and the common sense exhibited by the proposals, getting this legislation passed wasn’t the easiest of feats. However, thanks to the leadership demonstrated by Gov. Pataki, the state Senate and the Assembly minority, we were able to reach an agreement with the Assembly majority to give this important legislation a fair vote on the floor of the chamber.
Personally, I believe a bill should be introduced on the floor, debated and voted on because of its merit, and not because of its sponsor or the party that supports it – and last week in Albany, we did that. Ideological differences in the bills that were introduced by the Assembly majority and Gov. Pataki were equally debated and an agreement was reached, a consensus that is good for New York and protects our law enforcement and our residents.
My colleagues and I in the Assembly minority conference and the people of New York won a great victory last week, and I am hopeful this practice of working together for the good of the people will continue into the next legislative session and beyond.