Today on the steps of City Hall, State Senator Michael Gianaris and The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence held a press conference to announce growing support for a package of what they termed “sensible” gun legislation.
Following a recent increase in gun violence in New York and the United States, Senator Gianaris introduced a series of gun violence prevention bills based on criteria established by the Brady Campaign which ranks each state according to the strength of its gun laws. These proposals would regulate the purchase of guns and strengthen New York’s gun existing laws.
Mainly, the bills propose to limit the purchase of firearms to one per month and prevent a firearm dealer from selling a firearm to any individual who has purchased such a weapon within the previous 30 days.
“Limiting the purchase of firearms to one per month has been identified as a great way of limiting the secondary market,” explained Mr. Gianaris.
Senator Gianaris wants to implement a universal background check, even for private gun sellers or buyers, and impose a 10 day waiting period on the sale of a firearm in order to give law enforcement officials enough time to perform a thorough background check of the prospective owner.
“Another thing we want to establish are background checks for private sales. Right now if I purchased a gun they wouldn’t do a background check,” Senator Gianaris stated. “We would impose a ten-day waiting period to allow background checks to occur and deter compulsive acts of violence.”
The bills would require prospective purchasers to obtain a firearm safety certificate, which can only be acquired after the successful completion of a safety training course that includes live firing, a safe-handling demonstration and a written test of firearm laws.
“We require a firearm safety certificate to be obtained,” Mr. Gianaris told us. “If to get a driver’s licence we need to pass a safety test, why don’t we need to do that when someone’s purchasing a firearm, it’s just common sense legislation.”
Jackie Hilly, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, reminded the attendees of the recent shooting to hammer home that gun crime is a critical issue.
“This summer we have seen first-hand the horrific results of doing absolutely nothing to improve our laws,” Ms. Hilly declared. “Massacres have occurred in movie theatres and places of worship and closer to home here in New York City, toddlers killed in playgrounds – a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. They were in the right place at the right time, it’s just that the guns were in the wrong hands.”
“More than 30,000 people die of gunfire in the United States every year. That includes 42 hundred children, that’s 9 children a day,” pointed out writer, Patrick J. Lynch. In fact, most gun owners agree with the bills proposed. “Sensible people including gun owners recognise that we have a serious problem in our hands, a problem of life and death.”
Ms. Hilly illustrated that a main problem concerning gun crime is both the issue of long guns, which do not require a Federal Firearms Licence, and the purchase of out-of-state guns.
“Although New York City’s crime guns come overwhelmingly from out of state, the same is not true in the rest of the state.” Ms. Hilly then reeled off some statistics from 2009. “In Albany, 47% of crime guns traced came from New York State. In Buffalo, the percentage was 69%. In Rochester, it’s 80%.”
Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told us, “It’s time to put the interests of New York families and our law enforcement officers above the interests of the gun lobby.”
Senator Gustavo Rivera added, “The communities I represent in the Bronx have felt the impact that lax gun laws can have, as gun violence has risen to unacceptably high levels.”
Ironically, those trying to regulate the buying of guns are labelled villains, as Brian Kavanagh, co-chair of New York State Legislators Against Illegal Guns, lamented.
“I’ve actually been compared to Nazi Germany for suggesting that sellers of guns should be having background checks.”
The Observer asked State Senator José Peralta if he thought that these bills would be enough to prevent gun crime or whether he considered them to merely be a foot in the door.
“These bills, if enacted, would make New York the toughest State in the Nation,” Mr. Peralta asserted. “So if this package of bills was enacted I would be satisfied that we would be number one in the country.”