NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
April 15, 2008


Assembly Passes Comprehensive Legislative Package To Protect Citizens And Law Enforcement From The Nightmare Of Gun Violence

Legislation Approved as April Marks First Anniversary of Virginia Tech,
Ninth Year Anniversary of Columbine Killings

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol announced that the Assembly Monday approved a series of gun safety measures aimed at helping law enforcement officers track down illegal guns, keep guns out of the hands of felons and children, and ban advanced weaponry used to kill police officers.

The 10-bill package has been passed by the Assembly for more than a decade. Additional provisions of the Assembly's comprehensive gun safety package would close several loopholes in state and federal procedures for licensing and regulating gun possession and also close mental health information loopholes.

"Gun violence is an insidious threat that affects every community. From gang violence in the inner cities to domestic violence and accidental shootings in suburban and rural communities, no part of our state has been left untouched by gun violence," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "The Assembly Majority is once again advancing its comprehensive legislation to curb gun violence. These bills, some of which have been passed by the Assembly for more than a decade, represent a sound and responsible gun-safety plan. Far too many have suffered the deadly consequences of gun violence. We must take every step possible to dry up the sources of illegal gun trafficking."

"We can get more illegal guns off our streets and save lives if the Senate will act on these critical measures. By ensuring we use technology to target law enforcement resources where they will be most effective, and by holding gun dealers accountable for their inventories, we can keep illegal guns off of the streets of New York," said Lentol (D-Brooklyn).

"Each year, almost a thousand New York State residents die from gun shot wounds and hundreds more are maimed. Law enforcement officers on the front lines are particularly at risk every day from the many illegal guns that flood New York's streets. The Assembly has taken action on ten gun violence prevention bills. New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) praises their proactive approach and calls on the Senate to act by passing at least two measures that will take illegal guns off of our streets and save lives," said Jackie Hilly, NYAGV Executive Director.

Getting Vital Information on Who is Disqualified From Owning a Gun to Those Who Need That Information (A.8700-B/Lentol)
Under a measure sponsored by Lentol, the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) would each be required to maintain a database of those individuals who have been involuntarily committed to a facility or are subject to a Kendra's Law order for outpatient treatment. Investigative officers doing background checks on people applying for a handgun license in New York would have access to this information. In cases where a defendant is found to be an incapacitated person or has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, the court would have the authority to revoke the defendant's firearm license, as well as require such person to turn over any weapons to law enforcement.

Cracking Down on Illegal Street Gun Trafficking (A.6525-A/Paulin;S.2404-B/Schneiderman)
Noting that one percent of gun dealers account for more than half of the guns that make their way into the illegal market, Silver said it was important to enact a comprehensive program to stop illegal guns from falling into the hands of criminals through commercial gun dealers. To that end, this bill not only takes aim at illegal trafficking but also imposes penalties on legal gun dealers guilty of dumping guns into the market.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), requires stringent recordkeeping and reporting to prevent gun sales to criminals. Additionally, under the terms of the legislation, gun dealers must implement a security plan, require employee training and prevent access to guns by minors.

"We have a duty to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and by passing this common-sense measure. Passing these important measures moves us one step closer to protecting all New Yorkers from gun violence," said Paulin.

Microstamping (A.9819-A/Schimel)
Legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck) would require that semiautomatic pistols manufactured or delivered to any licensed dealer in New York State be capable of microstamping. The bill would ensure 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. The bill also sets fines for violations of this requirement.

"The crime-solving potential of microstamping technology is enormous. This next generation crime-fighting tool will aid law enforcement in investigating, arresting, and convicting more perpetrators of gun-related crimes, and will help victims of gun violence and their families obtain some degree of justice," said Schimel.

Banning Armor-Piercing Ammunition (A.3447/Koon;S.2002/Padavan)
This measure, sponsored by Assemblyman David Koon, would rid New York streets of deadly armor piercing ammunition and ammunition that is designed to fragment or explode upon impact.

"We owe our law enforcement officers the highest level of protection against lethal ammunition, and this legislation will do just that. With more than 140 police and sheriff departments supporting this common-sense measure, now is the time for the Senate to pass these bills and further protect those who protect us," said Koon (D/I-Perinton).

Tracking Guns Involved In Crimes (A.3451/Koon;S.3009/Robach)
Another bill included in the package would require law enforcement personnel to submit ballistic information to the new State Police Ballistic Identification Databank whenever spent bullets, shell casings or guns come into their possession.

The Children's Weapon Accident Prevention Act (A.76-A/Weisenberg)
This legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), seeks to protect children from accidental shootings. The bill would create five new crimes for negligently storing a firearm. Gun retailers would be required to alert consumers about the new weapons storage requirements. The state Education Department would develop a weapons safety program to teach children how to prevent weapon accidents.

"No responsible gun owner should object to my legislation, when we know that approximately one third of all gun-related deaths involving children could have been prevented by simply locking up guns and ammunition. The Assembly has overwhelmingly approved this life saving measure for the past 15 years. I fervently hope that this is the year my colleagues in the Senate, as well as the governor, finally join with us to end these needless tragedies. Its enactment is long overdue," said Weisenberg.

Childproofing Firearms (A.829/Englebright;S.7556/Sampson)
This bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), would reduce child-related shootings, particularly those tragedies involving children shooting children. It would make it a class A misdemeanor to sell guns without childproof features. The bill covers pistols or revolvers manufactured 12 or more months after its effective date. Design features rendering a firearm more safe could include making the weapon more difficult to fire by adjusting the trigger resistance of the gun to at least a 10-pound pull, altering the firing mechanism so that an average five-year-old child's hand would be too small to operate the gun or requiring a series of multiple motions in order to fire the gun.

"It's important to take every precaution to protect our children from the accidental discharge of a firearm. By requiring simple and inexpensive gun design changes that already exist, we hope to eventually eliminate the all too frequent tragic gun accidents," said Englebright.

Disguised Guns (A2868/Lentol;S.3868/C.Johnson)
A new trend in gun design has spawned additional legislation that expands the definition of a "disguised gun." This bill addresses guns designed and intended to appear to be a toy gun by displaying a color finish other than the original manufacture color, a decorative pattern or plastic-like surface. Any person, dealer, firm, partnership or corporation that designs or transforms a firearm to resemble a toy gun by altering or concealing the original color or surface of the gun with the purpose of selling such weapon would be guilty of a class D felony.

Stopping Assault Weapons (A.7331-A/Titone)
This legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-Staten Island), would ban assault weapons. Seeking to address the void when President Bush and Congress allowed the federal assault weapon ban to expire, the Assembly proposal would expand the definition of assault weapon to prohibit more of these deadly guns in New York - including guns that have been modified to work like assault weapons.

"We need to do more to protect our families and the brave men and women in law enforcement who put themselves in danger on a daily basis," Titone (D-Staten Island) said. "By moving forward with this bill we are taking an important step to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals, whose only intention with these killing machines is to maim and murder."

Banning 50-Caliber Weapons (A.2772-A/Eddington;S2411-A/Schneiderman)
Another proposal, sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington would ban 50-caliber sniper weapons, which can disable commercial aircraft and helicopters and are powerful enough to penetrate steel plating. These dangerous weapons, which are used extensively by the United States military, can kill from over one mile away. They continue to be available for purchase in New York by anyone who can buy a rifle. A report from the nationally-renowned Violence Policy Center found that these weapons have been purchased by the Al Qaeda terrorist network and used by other domestic and international terrorist organizations. Silver noted the Assembly had sought to include a ban on these weapons in a comprehensive state anti-terrorism law passed two years ago, but the proposal was rejected by the Senate and the governor each time. Silver called attention to California's enactment of legislation banning these weapons and called on New York to do the same.

"The gun lobby argues that these weapons are used only for hunting and target shooting. The fact is crimes involving .50-caliber guns hit close to home. Just recently in Nassau County, two dozen gang members were arrested and authorities seized their arsenal of weapons which included a .50-caliber sniper rifle. There is no civilian use for these dangerous guns and I hope Senate Republicans will put the safety of our families first and act quickly to pass this common-sense measure," Eddington (WFP/D-Medford) said.

"New York's gun laws will only go so far to curb gun violence so long as the patchwork of state laws across our nation continues to create loopholes that allow vast quantities of weapons to be purchased legally and transported elsewhere. The Assembly Majority is not advocating that the state take firearms away from licensed and law-abiding citizens. All we are asking for is sensible gun policies that prevent accidents and save lives," said Silver.