Assemblymember Al Taylor: The Time to End Gun Violence is Now

Assembly takes action again to keep firearms out of the wrong hands

Assemblymember Al Taylor (D-Manhattan) helped pass legislation to prevent and reduce gun violence in New York. The legislative package helps keep guns out of the wrong hands, bans bump stocks, and strictly limits guns on school property. The Assembly has continually passed common-sense measures to stop senseless gun violence and save lives. Last year, the Assembly helped to make law the Domestic Violence Escalation Prevention Act, which prohibits an individual who has been convicted of a domestic violence crime from purchasing or possessing a firearm (Ch. 60 of 2018). The measures passed today will also become law thanks to new Senate leadership.

 “Countless lives are lost every day in New York and in the nation because someone who should not have had a gun got their hands on one. Places we assume are safe, such as schools, movie theaters, and places of worship, are increasingly shown to be subject to armed violence. We cannot pretend gun violence is inevitable and that we cannot do anything to prevent it. Today, we are taking the steps to change the course of history and take it upon ourselves to say enough is enough.”

Additionally, the Assembly again passed legislation allowing a court to issue an order, known as an extreme risk protection order (ERPO), prohibiting a person who is determined to be a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a firearm for up to one year (A.2689). The petitioner, who could be a family member, school administrator, or law enforcement officer, would be required to file a sworn application describing the circumstances and justification for the request. Following an initial hearing, the court may grant a temporary order if there is reasonable cause to believe the individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to themselves or others. At a subsequent hearing, the court may issue a final order which would last for one year.

Many individuals who commit violent acts with a firearm exhibit red flag behaviors. Earlier this month, an attack on the upstate community Islamberg was thwarted when a high school student overheard a classmate in the lunchroom make an alarming remark.[1] However, if the red flags are not heeded, the end result can be tragedy, as was the case in the Parkland, Florida. Authorities were warned the Parkland shooter was amassing weapons with the intent to attack a school before he killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in last year.[2] An extreme risk protection order would help ensure warning signs are taken seriously and real action is taken when someone poses a serious threat.

To further help keep our children safe in school, the legislative package also includes a measure prohibiting a school administrator from arming teachers or other school employees in K-12 schools in New York State (A.1715-A). Under current law, guns are prohibited on school grounds unless authorized by a school administrator. Today’s bill would ban administrators from authorizing school employees to carry guns on school grounds with the exception of school resource officers, police officers, peace officers, or security guards.  

“The notion that giving teachers weapons would result in a safer school environment is ridiculous. Educators should be armed with the knowledge and skills to impart to our kids, not an incredibly dangerous firearm,” said Assemblymember Taylor.

The Assembly also passed legislation prohibiting the possession, manufacture, transport, shipment, and sale of devices, including bump stocks, trigger cranks, and other rapid-fire modification devices, that accelerate the firing rate of firearms so that they operate in a similar manner to machine guns (A.2684). Under current New York State law, attaching such a device to a firearm is illegal because once attached, the weapon is considered a machine gun. However, there is no restriction on the sale or possession of bump stocks or other similar devices that are not attached to a firearm.

Gun modifications like those noted above allowed a gunman to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in United States history in Las Vegas in October 2017, firing more than 1,100 rounds in approximately 10 minutes and killing 58 people.[3],[4] There is absolutely no reason why a civilian should have access to a military-style assault weapon that can inflict so much damage so quickly.

Furthermore, legislation was passed to establish a waiting period of up to 30 days, replacing the current period of three days, before a gun can be sold to an individual who has not cleared a background check (A.2690). Under current federal law, gun dealers must conduct a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before selling a firearm. The NICS system responds with one of three messages: “proceed,” “denied,” or “delayed.” While the vast majority of background checks are immediately marked “proceed” or “denied,” transactions that receive a “delayed” response must be completed after three business days if no additional “denied” response is received. In these cases, the FBI continues to investigate whether the person is an eligible purchaser beyond the three-day period even though the person has likely already been sold the firearm.

This dangerous loophole allowed nearly 4,900 prohibited purchasers to access guns in 2017 alone.[5] Dylann Roof, who brutally killed nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, was able to legally purchase the gun he used because of this loophole.[6] The FBI itself has even suggested that more time be given to investigate “delayed” responses, but no change has been made on the federal level,[7] making it all the more imperative that New York take action now, noted Assemblymember Taylor.

Additionally, the legislative package includes measures to:

  • require out-of-state citizens who also have homes in New York to waive the confidentiality of their home state mental health records when applying for a New York State firearm license (A.1213); and
  • create the “Municipal Gun Buyback Program,” which would be administered by the State Police and allow individuals to turn in firearms. Those participating would be immune from certain criminal possession charges and would be able to collect a monetary reward (A.2685).

“While I generally believe in the power of prayer, in this instance, thoughts and prayers are not enough,” Assemblymember Al Taylor said. “The violence will not stop unless we enact measures to keep guns from getting into the wrong hands. Our lives and our children’s lives depend on it.”



[7] Ibid.