Gun control is the next major item on New York State’s justice reform agenda, with six control bills up for debate in the state legislature, as Democrats continue to exploit their electoral majority, Newsday reports.
More than two dozen other gun measures are under consideration by lawmakers in the first election year since Republicans lost the State Senate majority and the power to block firearms measures.
“I would say this can be one of the biggest years when you go to the history book,” said Assmblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Brooklyn).
“New York State will finally be able to move forward to have real gun control reforms in place.”
But the Democrats’ majority hasn’t stopped a fierce pushback on other justice reform measures from conservative opponents.
On January 1, a bill eliminating money bail for many offenses went into effect, but a campaign by victims’ groups and law enforcement has prompted a debate over softening the measure.
The dozens of gun control measures adopted and proposed so far in the 2019-20 legislative session follows a dearth of gun control measures from February 2013 through 2018. During that time, the Senate’s former Republican majority blocked most gun measures following the passage of the landmark SAFE Act in January 2013, a month after the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut.
Republicans, with little input on Democratic gun bills, have also found their own gun proposals — to support legal gun owners’ rights and crack down on illegal guns — mired in committee.
For example, a bill by Assembly Republicans to repeal most of the SAFE Act backed by a petition of more than 125,000 names has failed to move from committee since 2013. Even a Republican bill to require public hearings before gun control bills are passed has failed to move out of its initial Assembly committee since April 26, 2019.
The SAFE Act’s provisions included banning assault rifles; using a background check to keep “dangerously mental ill” people from buying firearms; requiring renewal of pistol permits; and limits on how many bullets a rifle can hold without reloading.
“We are all for good public policy that makes sense,” said Assembly Republican leader William A. Barclay (R-Pulaski), who sponsors the public hearing bill.
“We want to keep our citizens safe, but we also think there is a constitutional right to bear arms. We don’t think this meets the balance test.”
Proposals up for consideration include:
- Prohibiting “ghost guns,” which would bar individuals who can’t legally possess a firearm from buying separate parts, then assembling an untraceable gun or shotgun.
- Authorizing courts to seize guns from the scene of a domestic violence incident.
- Denying firearm permits and licenses to an applicant who committed certain misdemeanors deemed serious in another state. Current law already denies permits and licenses to New Yorkers if they commit serious misdemeanors within New York.
- Requiring all crime gun data including ballistic records to be kept in a centralized database for use by law enforcement.
- Sharing “flags” of mental health concerns about gun owners to officials in other states.
- Creating a “domestic violence misdemeanor” that could deny firearms from an abuser upon conviction.