January 2006 Fighting Gun Crime
From the NYS Assembly
Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Joseph R. Lentol, Chair, Codes Committee

Assembly passes tough legislation to crack down on illegal gun trafficking and law enforcement officers
Legislation targeting the sources of illegal guns is still needed

"Governor Pataki and the State Senate need to take a hard look at the Assembly’s gun package and pass laws that will keep law enforcement officers safe and provide them with the tools they need to cut off the flood of illegal guns.” – Jim Brady, Chair of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The Assembly’s enactment of a tough new law that raises criminal penalties for unscrupulous gun dealers is a positive step forward in the effort to curb gun violence and protect law enforcement. However, the Assembly is committed to continuing the fight by targeting the source of illegal firearms.

The simple fact is this: every illegal gun began as a legally manufactured firearm. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, roughly 57 percent of illegal guns nationwide are traced back to 1.2 percent of licensed gun dealers. This small fraction of gun dealers feeds off the misery of street violence and casts a shadow over responsible gun owners. The Assembly has repeatedly fought for stricter monitoring of gun dealers to ensure that firearms stay out of the hands of violent criminals.

"This is plain and simple – the NRA versus the lives of our children and our police officers." - Mayor Michael Bloomberg
The Assembly comprehensive proposal (A.2345) would prevent "straw buyers" from purchasing guns that are then sold to criminals. The measure would require gun dealers to follow a few simple precautions such as training employees in how to recognize straw purchases and requiring them to cooperate with the police during investigations of violent crimes. Sadly, the Senate and governor, bowing to pressure from the radical gun lobby, have refused to the follow the Assembly’s lead.

"The job for law enforcement will be that much harder because we didn’t shut down one of the sources of illegal guns. We increased the punishment but didn’t reduce their caseload." - Jacqueline Kuhls, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
During the past six years, the National Rifle Association has contributed more than $50,000 to majority Senators - 80 percent of whom receive an "A" rating from the NRA. It’s no wonder they have time and time again blocked common-sense measures to crack down on gun violence. They even went so far as to block legislation (A.2837) banning exploding, frangible and armor piercing "cop -killer" bullets that can penetrate a police officer’s bullet-proof vest.

The Senate also blocked legislation (A.2466) that would keep police from being out gunned by banning military-style assault weapons, which are responsible for one in five officers killed in the line of duty from 1998-2001. The Senate blocked these measures despite the fact that both were endorsed by 143 police and sheriff’s departments across the state.

Other measures the Senate has failed to even allow a vote on include:

  • a ban on convicted felons obtaining firearms (A.1170);
  • a bill to expand the ballistics identification databank to assist law enforcement officers in tracking down guns used in crimes (A.968-B);
  • a bill requiring law enforcement officers to report guns, spent bullets and shell casings found at crime scenes to the ballistic identification databank (A.2213);
  • a ban of the military-grade .50-caliber assault rifle which can penetrate a Bradley fighting vehicle and can be used by terrorists to shoot down an airplane from a mile away (A.4471-A); and
  • the Children’s Weapon Accident Prevention Act (A.673).

"I think New York State would benefit significantly." - Daniel W. Webster, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, in reference to the Assembly Democrats’ bill to crack down on unscrupulous gun dealers.
Gun violence is something that must be addressed on a federal level as well. Ineffective laws in other states create loopholes through which illegal gun runners are able to legally purchase guns in other states for clandestine resale in New York. In New York City alone, 92 percent of illegal handguns were traced to out-of-state sources.

Because of the radical gun lobby’s influence, there are no federal laws requiring firearm registration or for gun dealers to assist an ATF agent tracing a weapon used in a crime.

"Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver takes pride in his record on fighting firearms violence, quite justifiably in one respect. His legislative house is tougher on gun control than Majority Leader Joe Bruno’s National Rifle Association-friendly Senate." – Daily News Editorial (Dec. 15, 2005).
Consider that while you have to register automobile transactions, 43 states allow under-the-table arms dealing. Unfortunately, the current patchwork of state laws and federal inaction ensures our streets will continue to be flooded by illegal firearms.

"Another difference is that the Assembly would increase regulation and oversight of legal gun sellers. The argument for doing so is that it can help prevent legal guns from becoming illegal guns. (Advantage, Assembly.)" - Times Union Editorial (Dec. 15, 2005).
The legislation the Assembly passed during December’s Extraordinary Session closed the front door on illegal guns by increasing penalties on criminal gun traffickers. But sadly, the governor’s and Senate’s blind devotion to the radical gun lobby has left the back door wide open. The Assembly is committed to pursuing a comprehensive approach that combines stiff penalties with measures that keep guns out of criminal hands – before they have the chance to destroy lives.

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