The Assembly passed a package of gun safety legislation this week that gives law enforcement the necessary tools to track down illegal guns, ban weaponry used to kill police officers and keep guns out of the hands of felons and children.
Gun violence kills approximately 1,200 New Yorkers a year. This past Wednesday’s news sadly highlights the danger our law enforcement officers face daily. Two officers shot, another killed because of one traffic stop in Upstate New York. The tragedy points to the constant threat of violence on our streets and the need to do what we can to stop it.
As a former Suffolk County police officer, I know we must strengthen gun safety laws to reduce gun violence and protect the innocent. Several of the bills I sponsored will help accomplish this task from educating our children about gun safety to implementing common sense business practices.
We need to end the practice of straw purchasers who legally buy firearms for resale to criminals. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, roughly 57 percent of illegal firearms nationwide are traced back to just 1.2 percent of licensed gun dealers who supply the illegal arms market. That’s why I sponsored legislation that (A.6525):
- requires gun dealers to cooperate with law enforcement to track illegal guns;
- requires gun dealers to keep records of sales;
- requires secure transport of guns;
- requires employees to be 21 to sell guns;
- requires liability insurance of at least $1 million; and
- sets penalties for gun dealers who ignore by the rules.
The bill can also help combat gang violence. We know from the State of New York Commission of Investigation report published last June that New York has a growing gang violence problem. In Suffolk County, for example, law enforcement officials are well aware of hundreds of MS-13 gang members, the largest street gang on Long Island. Based on the Commission’s findings, I sponsored three key bills to increase penalties for violent crime. Shutting down the illegal gun market is another way to stop senseless killing.
I also sponsored legislation to ban the use of exploding and armor piercing “cop-killer” bullets (A.3447) and to ban the sale, use or possession of 50-caliber or larger weapons (A.2772) – military-grade assault weapons that have no place on our streets. Both bills will help protect the state’s law enforcement officers. In addition, giving law enforcement officers the ability to trace bullets and shell casings from a crime scene by using the existing ballistics database is the intent of another bill that I support (A.3451).
Education and prevention are also critically important. The Children’s Weapon Accident Prevention Act (A.76) creates new crimes if weapons aren’t safely secured and also requires a weapons safety program in our schools.
We must take action now to curb the violence that shatters lives and threatens our neighborhoods.