Photo Courtesy of State Senate
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (at podium) and her fellow legislators on Tuesday celebrated the passage of gun bills in Albany.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The State Senate and Assembly on Tuesday passed a comprehensive package of bills aimed at preventing and reducing gun violence in New York.
“Common sense gun safety reform will save lives, period,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), a sponsor of one of the six Upper Chamber measures.
“In 2017 alone, almost 40,000 people were killed by a gun in the U.S., 772 of those happened here in New York. I refuse to accept that as the cost of unfettered access to guns,” added Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.
The package includes:
• Extreme Risk Protection Orders: Dubbed the Red Flag Bill, this allows law enforcement officials, family and household members and certain school officials to seek a court order requiring a person likely to harm themselves or others to relinquish any firearms in their possession.
• Effective Background Check Act: Introduced by Gianaris, this measure establishes an extension of time up to 30 calendar days for national in-state background checks.
Under current federal law, gun dealers must conduct a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System before selling a firearm. The NICS system responds with “proceed,” “denied” or “delayed.” While the vast majority of background checks are immediately marked “proceed” or “denied,” transactions which 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.
• Bump Stock Ban: Prohibits the possession of a device that accelerates the rate of fire of a firearm.
• Preventing School Districts from Allowing Teachers to be Armed: Prevents K-12 schools from authorizing anyone other than a security officer, school resource officer, or law enforcement officer to carry a firearm on school grounds.
• Gun Buy Backs: Directs the State Police to devise regulations for gun buyback programs so that all buyback programs across the state are operated consistently with uniform best practices.
• Out of State Mental Health Records: This bill will require out-of-state applicants for gun permits to allow New York permitting authorities to review out-of-state mental health records.
“Today New York’s lawmakers demonstrated true leadership by passing sensible, life-saving measures to prevent gun violence across our state,” said New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Executive Director Rebecca Fischer. “Our leaders understand that New Yorkers need more than condolences to keep our neighborhoods, homes, and schools safe. We need to keep guns away from people in crisis, not guns in our classrooms.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Now, you’ll see the political extremes rise up, same argument for the past 25 years. ‘Oh, it’s another restriction, it’s another slippery slope. They won’t be happy until they take my gun.’ No one wants to take guns from legal owners who are mentally healthy. We don’t want people who are mentally ill or past felons to have guns. That’s all this is. And any reasonable American who looks at what’s going on in this country, I believe agrees with that, if we can just de-politicize it.”