State Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) plans to propose five gun control bills this week in an effort with other Democratic state senators to stop gun violence. New York State is the fourth toughest state on gun control, Gianaris said, but these bills would close many gaps and make the state No. 1.
The theater shooting in Colorado and the mass murder of Sikhs in Wisconsin has many politicians taking a look at gun legislation. Gianaris began working with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which ranks each state according to the strength of its gun control laws, after the Colorado shooting on July 20. Additionally, New York City has seen a 12 percent uptick in gun violence in the year to date, spurring Gianaris to introduce this package.
“The recent rash of gun violence makes clear that enough is enough. It is long past time to improve our gun laws and New York should lead the way,” Gianaris said.
However, gun control bills have not had an easy go in the Republican-majority state Senate.
“Now is the time — and the issue — to put politics aside,” said state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst), who is the sponsor of 15 bills pertaining to gun control in the state Senate.
“In 2010 the Republican Party took control and it became very, very difficult. Any bill with remnants of gun control was shoved into some committee that was never going to see light of day,” he said.
Peralta has long pushed for microstamping, which would put serial numbers on ammunition. Mayor Bloomberg supports the bill; however, it hasn’t moved in the Senate.
Nevertheless, Peralta is trying a new tactic with what he calls common-sense legislation. The senator said three relatively new bills will gather bipartisan support. One is a measure to strip the mentally ill of guns. It has passed in the Assembly during the last four years and has NRA backing. He also sponsored legislation that requires people to renew their gun licenses every five years and get a background check when purchasing ammunition.
“The Senate Republicans can live with this. It won’t be such a heavy lift,” he said.
Gianaris’ new bills will complement these proposed laws, by targeting areas where the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence says the state is lacking.
The center evaluates states on legislation curbing firearm trafficking, promoting child safety, banning assault weapons, strengthening background checks and restricting guns in most public places. States can earn up to 100 points in their annual evaluation.
California has the highest ranking with 81 points. New York is fourth best with 62.
“New York is still pretty strong, but has room for improvement,” Gianaris said.
His laws, if passed, would help elevate New York to the highest spot. One of the five bills would restrict people to buying no more than one firearm a month. Another would establish a universal background check even for transactions with private sellers.
Thirdly, prospective purchasers would be required to earn a firearm safety certificate through taking a class. Also, the legislative package would impose a 10-day waiting period, which the state senator said could possibly deter emotionally disturbed individuals from committing impulsive acts of violence.
Lastly, the legislation would require dealer permits to sell firearms and ammunition as well as requireinsurance for permitted dealers and mandate dealers to report all firearm and ammunition sales within 24 hours to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. Records of all sales must be kept on file by the state for at least 10 years.
Aside from the permit requirement the bills would not crack down on weapons used for hunting or sport, but instead focus on controlling the illegal use and selling of pistols, revolvers and sawed-off shotguns and rifles.
Mayor Bloomberg is a proponent of gun control, but has reportedly questioned if these bills will mitigate gun violence since the package does not address guns being bought out of state.
“The problem is the guns come from all over the country,” Bloomberg said at the Sikh Cultural Center in Richmond Hill on Monday. “Forty percent of guns are now sold over the Internet or at gun shows, so the requirement to conduct a background check doesn’t apply.”
State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) did not return emailed question requests about Republican senators stalling gun control legislation.