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NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY
MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION
submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A53A SPONSOR: Paulin (MS)
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, the general business law and the environmental conservation law, in relation to the safe storage of rifles, shotguns, or firearms; and to repeal certain provisions of the penal law relating thereto   PURPOSE: To provide regulations for safe storage of firearms in order to prevent injury and death, particularly of children, by unintentional access, discharge and use of weapons.   SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1: The act shall be known as "Nicholas's law." Recites the legislative findings. Section 2: Amends the penal law to add new section 265.44 to provide the definition of "safe storage depository." Section 3: Repeals section 265.45 of the penal law and adds three new sections as follows: § 265.45 defines failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm when a person owns or has custody of a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm and leaves such rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm out of his or her immediate possession or control with- out having first securely locked such rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm in an appropriate safe storage depository or rendered it incapa- ble of being fired by use of a gun locking device appropriate to that weapon; provided that actual possession of a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm by the holder of a valid New York hunting license or permit issued pursuant to article 11 of the Environmental Conservation Law and contemporaneously used in accordance with such law shall not be governed by this section. Failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm is a violation. § 265.46 defines failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm in the second degree when a person commits the crime of failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm as defined in section 265.45 of the penal law and either: (i) at the time of the commission of such crime resides with another individual who such person knows or has reason to know is prohibited from possessing a firearm pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 922(g)(1), (4), (8) or (9); or (ii) has been previously convicted of failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm within the preceding 10 years under this section or section 265.45 or 265.47. Failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm in the first degree is a class A misdemeanor. § 265.47 defines failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm in the first degree when a person commits the offense of failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm as defined in section 265.45 and as a result of such failure to safely store, such rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm is obtained by an unauthorized person and discharges causing physical injury to any other person. Failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm in the first degree is a class E felony. Section 4: Amends the penal law to add three new sections as follows: § 265.49 defines failure to provide notice in the second degree as the failure, in the sale or transfer of any rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm to another person, to provide the transferee at the time of sale or transfer, with a gun locking device that is capable of preventing the particular weapon from firing or a safe storage deposito- ry and a copy of the warning set forth in the section in conspicuous and legible type. Failure to provide notice in the second degree is a violation. § 265.51 defines failure to provide notice in the first degree as committing the offense of failure to provide notice in the second degree and the person has been previously convicted of the offense of failure to provide notice in the second degree within the preceding 10 years. Failure to provide notice in the first degree is a class B misdemeanor. § 265.53 provides that when a person has a prior conviction for failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm in the second degree or failure to safely store a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm safely in the first degree, upon a second or subsequent conviction of either such offense, the district attorney or other prose- cuting authority who obtained such conviction shall provide notice to both the division of state police and, if such person possesses a New York state issued handgun license, the pertinent licensing officer who currently exercises legal authority over such person's license. The notice shall include the information set forth in this section. Section 5: Adds new subdivision 18 to § 400.00 of the penal law to require the licensing officer to issue a notice set forth in the subdi- vision in conspicuous and legible type upon the issuance or renewal of a license. Section 6: Amends subdivision 2 of § 396-ee of the general business law, as added by chapter 189 of the laws of 2000, to provide the text of the notice that every person, firm or corporation engaged in the retail business of selling rifles, shotguns, firearms or antique firearms must post conspicuously in bold print in the place where such rifles, shot- guns, firearms or antique firearms are displayed or transferred to a purchaser. Section 7: Amends section 11-0713 of the environmental conservation law by adding a new subdivision 7 to require the issuing officer of a hunt- ing license or muzzle-loading privilege to issue therewith a notice set forth in said subdivision in conspicuous and legible type. Section 8: Provides for severability if a word, phrase, clause, sentence, paragraph, section, or part of this act shall be adjudged by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid. Section 9: Provides the effective date.   JUSTIFICATION: In 2001, legislation was passed to require the purchase of a safety locking device with the purchase or transfer of a firearm. In 2013, the SAFE Act was enacted, which included a provision that requires safe storage of a firearm; however, that provision applies only to a person who owns or is custodian of a rifle, shotgun or firearm who resides with an individual who such person knows or has reason to know is prohibited from possessing a firearm under specific provisions of federal law. And the SAFE Act does not provide for the safe storage of firearms in homes when and where children are present. This legislation would provide for criminal penalties for any person who stores or otherwise leaves a rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm out of his or her immediate possession or control without having first securely locked such rifle, shotgun, firearm or antique firearm in an appropriate safe storage depository or rendered it incapable of being fired by using an appropri- ate gun locking device. In 2011, firearms killed 997 New Yorkers. Of these, 466 deaths were homicides (47%), 505 were suicides (51%), 12 were unintentional (1%) and 14 were legal (1%). Safe storage is one way to help reduce the firearm death and injury rate in New York State. Safe storage may reduce theft and use of firearms in crime. It is esti- mated that each year in the United States, half a million firearms are stolen. Safe storage is particularly important in keeping firearms out of the hands of children and young people. A 2005 study of adult firearm stor- age practices found that almost 2 million children under age 18 live in homes with easily accessible loaded and/or unlocked guns. 116 Pediatrics e3701-372 (Sept. 2005). We have learned that poorly stored guns increase the risk of accidental gun deaths. Reducing-Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis, Webster OW, Vernick JS, ed. 2013, p. 13. Moreover, studies have shown that keeping firearms locked and unloaded reduced unintentional injury in homes with children and teens. 293 JAMA 707, 711-713(2005). Each year in New York State, on average 210 children ages 19 years and younger are treated at a hospital because of an unintentional firearm injury, and 75 are injured severely enough to be hospitalized. Two children in this age group are killed each year in an unintentional firearm incident. A gun kept in the home is 43 times more likely to be used to kill someone who the family knows than to kill someone in self-defense. (http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/injury_prevention/children/fact_ sheets/birth-19_years/firearminjuries_birth-19_years.htm) This bill is named for 12-year old Nicholas Naumkin, who was shot in the head by his 12-year-old friend at his friend's home in Wilton, New York. His friend was playing with his father's gun when he shot Nicholas. Nicholas died the following day, on December 23, 2010. A middle school student in Saratoga Springs, Nicholas was a talented young man with a passion for acting, drawing and computer animation. In 2011, in New York, 389 children under the age of 18 were hospitalized with a nonfatal gun injury. Of these injuries, 314 were due to an assault and 60 were accidental (National Inpatient Sample, 2011). In 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control (WISQARS), 116 chil- dren under the age of 19 were killed by guns in New York - 93 were homi- cides, 13 were suicides and ten were undetermined. Child Access Prevention (CAP) laws, which include provisions similar to those contained in this legislation, have been associated with lower rates of unintentional gun deaths among children. Regulating Guns in America: An Evaluation and Comparative Analysis of Federal, State and Selected Local Gun Laws, p. 233, published by Legal Community Against Violence, 2008. Currently, 27 states and the District of Columbia have enacted CAP laws, including California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia. Studies have found CAP laws to be effective in reducing accidental shootings of children by as much as 23%. Preventing children from obtaining access to firearms by requiring safe storage will enable us to prevent child accidents, suicides and school incidents. First, safe storage can prevent those tragic, accidents where a child finds a loaded firearm and accidentally shoots another child. Safe storage can also reduce suicides, particularly by teens who may reach for an available firearm in a moment of distress. Studies indicate mere presence of an available firearm the house increases teen suicide. Many of these firearms came from homes where they were unlocked. A 1998 report issued by the State Department of Health indicated that a substantial number of firearm owners in New York State do not properly secure their firearms. The report, Firearm Ownership and Safe Storage in New York State, concluded 38% reported some form of unsafe storage, where unsafe storage is defined as either failing to lock all firearms or to secure ammunition separately in a locked place. The intent of this legislation is to encourage safe firearm storage before incidents occur, as in the tragic accident with Nicholas Naumkin. Although we have been a leader in enacting strong gun safety laws, we do not have CAP and safe storage laws critical to prevent gun accidents. Safe storage laws save lives.   PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A.8293-A, 2013 referred to codes and 2014 amended and recommitted to codes. Same as S.7822, 2014 referred to codes. Similar to A.3221, 2013 and 2014 referred to codes. Same as S.1804, 2013 and 2014 referred to codes. Similar to A.381, 2011 and 2012 referred to codes. Same as S.4538, 2011 and 2012 referred to codes. A.1094, 2009 and 2010 referred to codes. A.7303, 2007 and 2008 referred to codes. Same as S.7475, 2008 referred to codes. A.2083, 2005 and 2006 referred to codes. A.4555, 2003 and 2004 referred to codes.   FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.   EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeeding the date on which it shall have becomes a law.