NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
January 9, 2006


Assembly Leaders Call on Senate, Governor to Stop Blocking
Common-Sense Anti-Gun Violence Measures

Silver Urges Putting Public Safety Before NRA Interest

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Codes Committee Chair Joseph Lentol today announced the Assembly passed a comprehensive package of bills aimed at stopping the type of gun violence that has taken the lives of some 7,000 New Yorkers since 1999.

Calling for the Senate to set aside their "unwavering allegiance to the NRA and act in the best interest of New York's children and families," Silver said the Assembly plans to launch the opening day of the 2006 legislative session by adopting a series of measures to prevent guns from being diverted from the legal stream of commerce to individuals who are not legally entitled to possess life-threatening weapons.

The lawmakers noted that during the past six years, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has contributed more than $50,000 to majority Senators - 80 percent of whom receive an "A" rating from the NRA.

"It is no wonder the Senate and the governor have time and time again blocked common-sense measures to crack down on gun violence. They even went so far as to block legislation banning exploding, frangible and armor piercing 'cop-killer' bullets that can penetrate a police officer's bullet-proof vest," Silver said (D-Manhattan).

Describing the package as a much-needed continuation of the important anti-gun violence legislation passed during last month's extraordinary session, Silver said the measures are a clear expression of the Assembly Majority's ongoing commitment to a comprehensive approach that combines stiff penalties with measures that keep guns out of criminal hands - before they have the chance to destroy lives. The Assembly's gun trafficking bill (A.9280) is a program bill submitted by state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

"Last month, by working together in a bipartisan manner, the Assembly, Senate and the governor came together to pass legislation to increase sentences for illegal gun trafficking and dramatically increase penalties for gun crimes against law-enforcement officers," said Silver. "While we have locked the front door on gun traffickers, the NRA's influence in Albany keeps the back door open. We call on the Senate and the governor to join with us to close the loopholes they left wide open."

"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. Communities across New York State have seen firsthand the deadly consequences of gun violence. We must take every step possible to dry up the sources of illegal gun trafficking. The governor and the Senate must agree to do more to protect New Yorkers," Silver said.

"The Assembly Majority's gun-safety package would enact strong laws to keep guns out of the hands of children and convicted felons, crack down on violent criminals who use firearms and enact common-sense measures to ensure that guns are possessed for lawful purposes, like self-defense and hunting," said Lentol (D-Brooklyn).

Cracking Down on Illegal Street Gun Trafficking (A.9280/Paulin)
Noting that one percent of gun dealers account for more than half of the legal 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 illegal market.

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

"We have a duty to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and by passing this common-sense measure today - we are moving one step closer to protecting all New Yorkers from gun violence," said Paulin.

Banning Armor Piercing Ammunition (A.2837/Koon)
This measure, sponsored by Assemblyman David Koon seeks to rid New York streets of deadly armor piercing ammunition and ammunition that is designed to fragment or explode upon impact. Silver noted that more than 140 police and sheriff's departments around the state have signed a resolution in support of the assault weapon ban and the armor piercing ammunition ban.

"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's 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.2213/Koon)
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.

"This bill adds to the amount of information in the state's ballistic identification databank giving law enforcement the tools to track down gun-toting criminals and protect our families. Expanding the databank will allow police officers to use valuable ballistics information to link guns from various crime scenes and stop violent criminals," said Koon.

Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Violent Felons (A.1170/Dinowitz)
Another bill would eliminate a loophole that allows a convicted violent felon to obtain a firearms license and possess a gun after being granted a legal waiver. The measure is sponsored by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx).

This bill would stop the practice of allowing convicted violent felons to possess a rifle or shotgun lawfully after being issued a "certificate of good conduct." It would also prevent violent felons who are issued a certificate of relief from disabilities or certificate of good conduct from obtaining a firearms license.

This bill narrows the relief afforded by these waivers to prevent convicted violent felons from obtaining a firearms license. It also criminalizes the possession of a rifle or shotgun by a convicted violent felon.

"Once again the Assembly is taking the lead in passing tough gun laws to protect our law enforcement officials and all New Yorkers. It is important that this package of bills is being passed on the first day of the legislative session. I strongly urge the state Senate and the governor to finally join us in passing these sensible bills that will save many lives," said Dinowitz.

The Children's Weapon Accident Prevention Act (A.673-A /Weisenberg)
This legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), seeks to protect children from accidental shootings. Five new categories of crime would be created under the bill's provisions for negligent storage of a weapon. 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 13 years. Its enactment is long overdue," said Weisenberg.

Childproofing Firearms (A.2302/Englebright)
This bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-East Setauket), would seek to reduce child-related shootings, particularly those tragedies of children shooting children. This bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor to sell guns without childproof features. Covered under provisions of the bill are pistols or revolvers manufactured 12 or more months after the effective date of the bill. Design features 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 to require 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 gun design changes that afford such protection we have hope to eventually eliminate the all too frequent tragic accidents," said Englebright.

Stopping Assault Weapons (A.2466-A/Lavelle)
This legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman John Lavelle (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.

"One in every five law enforcement officers murdered in the line of duty is killed with an assault weapon," said Lavelle. "However, gun makers continue to blatantly evade current law and manufacture firearms that are functionally identical to those already banned in New York. This legislation is vital towards keeping our streets safe from these deadly military-style weapons."

Banning 50-Caliber Weapons (A.4471-A/Eddington)
Another proposal, sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington (D-Patchogue), would ban 50-caliber sniper weapons, which can be used to 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, are accurate 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 recent enactment of legislation banning these weapons and called on New York to do the same.

"A 50-caliber weapon in terrorist hands is a nightmare scenario. With deadly accuracy, it can destroy targets from over a mile away. Designed for assassination and armor piercing, they are military weapons with no legitimate purpose on our streets. They are a clear and present terrorist threat," said Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington (WFP/D/I - Medford). "These weapons of war are easier to buy than handguns. Banning the 50-caliber weapon is one way we can fight the war on terror."

Domestic Violence (A.2404/O'Donnell)
Sponsored by Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell (D-Manhattan), this measure seeks to protect victims of domestic violence by requiring criminal or family court judges to inquire about the existence and location of firearms owned or possessed by a defendant when an order of protection is sought. Expressing concern for victims of domestic violence, Silver said that while current law allows for the discretionary or mandatory revocation or suspension of firearms licenses upon the issuance of orders of protection, it does not require the court to inquire about the location of those weapons.

"This bill will help reduce the risk of gun violence in order of protection cases. Studies have shown that in states with laws restraining abusers from possessing firearms, intimate partner homicide rates steadily decreased," said O'Donnell.

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NOTE: Click here to view a list of the police and sheriff's departments around the state that have signed a resolution in support of the 50-caliber ban and the armor-piercing ammunition ban.