The past several weeks have been heartbreaking for Americans and New Yorkers in the wake of the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, and the shooting of several law enforcement officers. Gun violence kills innocent victims, and shatters countless lives and families. The Assembly has passed a package of gun safety legislation because we need to pay special attention to those who have access to deadly weapons. We must do all we can to reduce the gun violence that kills approximately 1,200 New Yorkers a year.
By strengthening gun safety laws we can reduce crime and protect the innocent. The gun safety legislation passed by the Assembly gives law enforcement officers the tools they need to track down illegal guns, bans weaponry used to kill police officers and keeps guns out of the hands of felons and children. Much of the violent crime perpetrated in New York today would not be carried out without guns. We cannot afford to ignore gun violence.
Every illegal gun began as a legally manufactured firearm. The Assembly bill that I sponsored (A.6525) imposes common sense business practices on legal gun dealers to prevent the flow of guns into the illegal market. It would:
- Require gun dealers to cooperate with law enforcement officers tracking illegal guns;
- Require gun dealers to keep records of sales;
- Require that guns are kept, transported and displayed in a secure manner;
- Restrict sales to licensed premises;
- Ensure that employees selling guns are at least 21 years old and trained;
- Require liability insurance of at least $1 million; and
- Set penalties for gun dealers who fail to abide by the rules.
In addition, I supported legislation to crack down on the sale, delivery or transfer of firearms which do not contain a childproofing device or mechanism that effectively prevents its firing by a child (A.829). There is something wrong when a weapon is easy enough for a five-year old to operate. The Children’s Weapon Accident Prevention Act creates new crimes for failing to secure weapons safely (A.76). If a person has a properly licensed weapon in their home, that weapon needs to have a childproofing device and needs to be stored properly. Because education is vital to combating gun use, the legislation also directs the commissioner of education to develop a weapons safety program for schoolchildren.
Another piece of legislation in this package that I strongly support requires judges issuing orders of protection to inquire about the ownership of a firearm by the defendant (A.1497). I also support such common sense measures as preventing convicted felons from purchasing firearms (A.463) and requiring that law enforcement officers utilize the existing ballistics database when guns, spent bullets and shell casings are found at a crime scene (A.3451).
It is heartbreaking what the families of the fallen law enforcement officers, and so many families, have to endure because of gun violence. The legislation passed by the Assembly is aimed at keeping our families safe and preventing any further gun tragedies.