Assemblyman Joseph Saladino (R,C,I-Massapequa) today commended the joint efforts of the Assembly, Senate and governor to reach agreement on legislation that increases penalties for individuals who possess or sell illegal firearms, those who possess multiple firearms, and those who commit violent crimes against public safety officers. The legislation is on its way to Gov. George Pataki for his signature to become law.
“I am very happy to win our battle in protecting the public, including innocent children, and protecting our law enforcement community,” said Saladino. “I hope we never hear of another funeral due to the result of illegal guns in criminals’ hands. Too often, criminals receive minimal sentences, including probation, for crimes involving illegal firearms and crimes perpetrated against police officers. Now the message is clear – if they take a police officer’s life, they will spend the rest of their days behind bars, without any chance of parole.”
On Tuesday, one day prior to the vote, Saladino joined his minority colleagues at a press conference in Hauppauge to call for tougher illegal gun trafficking laws and more protection for law enforcement personnel. He urged members of the Assembly majority to support the timely passage of several measures aimed at keeping police officials safe. The next day, legislation increasing penalties for individuals who purchase, sell or possess illegal firearms, or who possess multiple illegal firearms, and a measure increasing penalties for violent attacks on police and peace officers was passed in the Assembly after much lobbying and pressure from Saladino and his minority colleagues.
According to Saladino, current law states anyone convicted of possessing as many as 19 illegal guns will face only a misdemeanor charge and likely will receive probation. Pataki first proposed legislation to fix these weaknesses in the law in 2001. The state Senate has repeatedly passed similar bills, but Speaker Silver never gave the Assembly the opportunity to vote on the legislation until today.
Saladino concluded, “Although this is a major hurdle cleared, it is still a shame this legislation could not have been passed years ago. However, I am hopeful that, with its passage, the bravest of the brave who put their lives on the line to protect others will be safer. We have increased the level of comfort to the spouses and families of law enforcement personnel. It was a fight, but in the end good sense has prevailed. I thank Gov. Pataki for his leadership and the bipartisan cooperative efforts put forth by both sides of the aisle in the Senate and Assembly for passing this historic legislation.”