Assembly to Pass Comprehensive Package of Legislation to Protect New Yorkers from Gun Violence

Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that the Assembly will pass a comprehensive package of commonsense gun safety legislation. Included in the legislative package are bills that would ban ghost guns, hold the gun industry liable for damages it causes, prohibit those with an outstanding warrant of arrest for a felony from purchasing a gun, and require quarterly reports on the origin of firearms used to commit crimes in New York.

“We have seen too many lives cut short and too many communities devastated by senseless gun violence – we should not have to see another person lose their life in a shooting at a school or workplace, or who was shot outside their home,” Speaker Heastie said. “The Assembly Majority has worked hard to address the root causes of gun violence in our state, and the commonsense legislation we pass today will build on that, helping keep dangerous weapons off our streets and make it easier for law enforcement to trace and track down firearms that are used in crimes.”

To pass today is legislation that would allow those responsible for the sale, manufacture, importing or marketing of guns to be held liable for the public nuisance caused by such actions. The legislation complies with the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) as interpreted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in City of New York v. Berretta USA Corps. The PLCAA has been used to shield the firearm industry from civil liability (A.6762-A, Fahy).

“Over 74 percent of all guns recovered from violent crimes and shootings in New York are trafficked in from out-of-state,” said Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. “Right now, only one industry in the United States enjoys blanket immunity from civil liability under federal law for negligence in the use of their products; the gun industry. Passing this landmark legislation will allow gun manufacturers knowingly utilizing bad actors and dealers to market their products to be held civilly liable for the damage they cause on our streets. We have always led the nation on gun legislation — and we aren’t letting up now to help keep New Yorkers safe from the scourge of gun violence. I thank Speaker Heastie, my Assembly colleagues, and gun violence prevention advocates for passing the Gun Industry Liability Law; it is one of if not the most effective tools we can leverage in the fight against gun violence this year in New York State.”

Included in today’s legislative package is the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, which would prohibit the possession of ghost guns. Ghost guns are unserialized firearms, typically assembled from unserialized parts, including unfinished frames or receivers. It would require licensed gunsmiths to serialize and register with the New York State Police any unserialized firearm, rifle, shotgun, finished frame or receiver, or unfinished frame or receiver in their possession (A.613-A, Rosenthal).

“New York has some of the strongest gun control laws in the country, and the proliferation of ghost guns - unserialized and untraceable firearms - threatens to undermine our laws and make New Yorkers and their families less safe. New York and the rest of the country has seen a marked increase in the sales of ghost gun kits and gun violence, which make it harder for law enforcement to get dangerous weapons off our streets and track down those committing gun violence,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Banning ghost guns and requiring that semiautomatic pistols are capable of microstamping ammunition are two ways that we can help law enforcement keep our communities safe.”

Also to pass today is the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act, which would prohibit the possession and sale of unfinished frames and receivers by individuals that are not licensed gunsmiths. Unfinished frames and receivers are incomplete gun components that do not require serial numbers under federal law. Because guns assembled from unfinished frames and receivers do not have serial numbers, they are untraceable and can be built and transported without the normal background checks required when purchasing a gun from a licensed retailer. The legislation is named for Scott J. Beigel, who lost his life during the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida while trying to protect his students (A.2666-A, Lavine).

“I commend my colleagues in the Assembly for passing this bill which, alongside legislation recently passed in the Senate, gives New York the strongest ‘ghost gun’ protections in the country,” Assemblymember Charles D. Lavine said. “This bill will enhance safety to our community and our children by creating much more accountability. It is dedicated to honor Scott Beigel, who lost his life tragically trying to save others during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018.It is intended, just as Scott intended, to save lives. With an epidemic of gun violence plaguing the United States, and in the face of federal inaction in dealing with the crisis, it is incumbent upon the states to enact commonsense reforms that close dangerous loopholes that allow untraceable weapons to flood our communities.”

The Assembly will pass legislation that would require all semiautomatic pistols to be capable of microstamping expended cartridge cases. Microstamping technology utilizes lasers to make precise, microscopic engravings on the internal mechanisms of a gun. As the gun is fired, information identifying the make, model and serial number of the gun can be stamped onto the cartridge as numbers and letters. This will allow law enforcement to trace firearms to their original purchaser through cartridge cases found at a crime scene. This would apply to semiautomatic pistols manufactured after January 1, 2023, that are sold or delivered in New York (A.7926, Rosenthal).

Today’s legislative package includes legislation that would prohibit the purchase, acquisition, sale or disposal of a weapon by or to anyone known to be the subject of an outstanding warrant of arrest for the alleged commission of a felony or serious offense. It would also prohibit an individual from purchasing or acquiring a gun on behalf of another person who the purchaser or acquirer knows to be the subject of such a warrant (A.6198-B, Paulin). Another bill to pass today would authorize the court, in matrimonial matters, to order a search and the seizure of firearms when a person against whom an order of protection has been issued refuses to surrender their firearms when so ordered. The criminal courts and the Family Court currently have similar statutory authority (A.7957, Richardson).

“Too often, we see guns fall into the wrong hands,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin. “If you have committed a serious offense, and there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest, you shouldn’t have a gun. In addition, if you are suicidal you should have the information you need to file an extreme protection order preventing you from getting a gun and harming yourself. Guns must be kept away from those who are a threat to themselves or others.”

“The Assembly Majority is committed to fighting the scourge of gun violence that is devastating communities across the state,” said Assemblymember Diana C. Richardson. “We must do so in a comprehensive manner. The bills I sponsored will give the courts the ability to seize guns from those who have an order of protection against them and refuse to give up their firearms, and will also require reports to be published on guns that are used in crimes so that we can continue to craft sensible commonsense policies to protect our communities.”

Also included is legislation that would require mental health facilities to provide patients and their authorized representative with information on how to seek an extreme risk protection order prior to a patient’s discharge or conditional release. This builds on the 2019 red flag law, which allows law enforcement to confiscate firearms and prohibit an individual from purchasing a firearm if they are deemed to be a threat, and if an extreme risk protection court order is issued (A.1005-A, Paulin). 

Today the Assembly will also pass legislation that would amend the definition of “disguised gun” to include any rifle, shotgun or machine gun that resembles a toy gun. This would prohibit the possession, manufacture and design of such disguised guns (A.6522, Stern).

“I am proud to sponsor this critically important legislation that will prohibit the design, sale and possession of guns disguised as toys in New York State,” Assemblymember Steve Stern said. “These weapons put our law enforcement personnel at a dangerous disadvantage in situations when they are facing down the barrel of what appears to be a toy gun and have to make a split second decision that could be the difference between life or death. This initiative will protect our entire community and save lives.”

Legislation to pass today would require the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the Division of State Police to publish quarterly reports providing information on firearms, rifles and shotguns that are used in the commission of crimes in New York. This would provide lawmakers and the public with a better understanding of the nature of the firearms used in crimes in the state and better inform policy actions in the future (A.7243, Richardson).