On Tuesday, June 15, the microstamping bill, which was passed by the New York State Assembly in May, fell short of two votes in the State Senate. The Senators who voted no on this measure, including all seven of Long Island's Minority Senators, sent a clear message to law enforcement officials and victims of gun violence and their families: You Don't Matter! Earlier in the day, a bipartisan coalition of mayors, district attorneys, police officers and legislators joined together on the steps of the Capitol and implored the State Senate to vote yes on the bill. Speaker after speaker, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, cited the efficacy of microstamping technology as an important tool to help police solve more gun crimes and reduce incidents of gun violence.
"The events of June 15 have made me even more determined to pass microstamping legislation in New York State," said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel standing among members of Long Island's law enforcement community at Nassau University Medical Center. "I am sad, sad for the police who lose so many brave officers to gun violence, sad for the Mayors who attend the funerals of the victims, and sadder still for the victims and their families who hoped and trusted that their elected officials would do the right thing by the people. I will work harder than I have ever worked to make sure Long Island communities stay safe and end the scourge of criminals with guns. I will continue to stand with the police and victims who suffer because of illegal guns and untraceable shell casings."
Assemblywoman Schimel and Senator Schneiderman's microstamping legislation (A.6468c/S.6005a) requires all semiautomatic pistols manufactured or delivered to any licensed firearms dealer in the State of New York to be capable of microstamping ammunition by January 1, 2012. The bill will not place any restrictions on gun ownership or access, will not require any new databases, and will not impose any new costs on the state. Manufacturers will incur minimal costs to adopt this technology.
Senator Eric Schneiderman, Chairman of the Senate Codes Committee, said, "With the bipartisan support of over 100 New York State mayors and 83 police departments and law enforcement organizations, microstamping is the tool we need to help investigate, arrest, and convict violent criminals and exonerate the innocent. It's time to put politics aside and put public safety first. It's time to pass microstamping in New York State."
Microstamping ensures that when a gun is fired, information identifying the make, model and serial number of the gun is stamped onto the cartridge as numbers and letters. This technology allows law enforcement officials to trace firearms through cartridge casings found at crime scenes, even if the crime gun is never found.
NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, who was injured by gun violence in the line of duty, spoke about the importance of microstamping technology. Det. McDonald said, "Twenty-four years ago, I was shot in the line of duty while on patrol in Central Park. The incident has left me quadriplegic and reliant on a respirator to breathe. While I am fortunate to have survived the incident, many victims of gun violence do not. At least five people were shot to death throughout Nassau County this past week. Meanwhile, in Albany, seven of our nine Long Island State Senators were voting against a measure to help police track down the criminals who fire deadly weapons. I urge these Senators to change their position and pass Microstamping before the end of the legislative session. The clock is ticking, and we must do everything we can to catch gun criminals before they kill again."
According to Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, "It is important that we remain proactive in our fight against crime in general and specifically against gun violence, which we are seeing more of these days. As Police Commissioner of Nassau County I am always looking for ways to deter and prevent crime. Microstamping would be a valuable investigative tool that would assist our Detectives with solving crimes committed within our great county."
New York State needs Microstamping on semi-automatic pistols, the number one gun used by criminals. Nationally, nearly 40% of all homicide cases go unsolved each year, often because there is no gun found at the crime scene, only blank shell casings.
"Microstamping of semiautomatic weapons would be a great investigative tool. Cartridges left at a crime scene could easily be traced to a specific firearm. This technology will create rapid leads that will help police investigators make arrests and take criminals off our streets," said Chief William Kilfoil, President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police and Chief of the Port Washington Police District.
Microstamping technology will help reduce gun trafficking of new semiautomatic handguns by creating accountability. Legal purchasers who buy guns for traffickers, also known as straw buyers, will be deterred once they know crimes committed with these guns can be traced back to them. This crime-fighting tool will provide law enforcement with rapid leads and will provide evidence to help investigate, arrest, and convict more perpetrators of gun-related crimes.
Monsignor Brendan Riordan of St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church in Great Neck represented Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre at the press conference. Monsignor Riordan said, "The illegal use of handguns deprives our communities of the peace we need so that our children grow to their full potential. Children and adults are harmed and killed by persons using guns illegally and all of us suffer from that violence and destruction. Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel is to be commended for her continuing efforts to protect our communities from violence."
"The New York State Senate has the power to help police solve more crimes and must vote YES on Microstamping legislation," said Jackie Hilly, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. "Police, District Attorneys and Mayors from all around New York State have asked for this important investigative tool to help solve crimes and put criminals behind bars. It is time for New York Senators to act in the public interest and enact this important legislation."