In the wake of increased gun violence in New York and two mass shootings in the nation in the last few weeks, a State Senator is proposing stricter gun laws that he says could give New York the toughest gun laws in the country.
Senator Mike Gianaris says he’s working on a package of bills that would limit gun purchases by New Yorkers and help curb what he says is growing gun violence in the state and the nation.
“It’s certainly a matter of pressing urgency,” said Gianaris, who says gun violence in New York City is up 12 percent over last year.
The bills would limit the purchase of handguns in the state to one per month, and would avoid repeating the scenario in last month's Aurora, Colorado shooting, where the gunman allegedly purchased several hand guns in the space of a few weeks. Two other states -- New Jersey and California -- already have similar laws.
The bills would also require a 10-day waiting period for gun purchases, and mandatory safety courses for buyers. Gun dealers would have to work more closely with law enforcement, and report all sales of firearms to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice, where they would be kept on file for a decade.
Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, says he’s working with the Brady Center, named after President Ronald Reagan’s former press secretary Jim Brady who was injured in an assassination attempt on the president in 1981.
Gianaris says he will also push for passage of existing bills that would ban assault weapons, and require micro-stamping identification on all guns sold in the state, to help police trace gun ownership through the bullets if a crime is committed.
The legislation, which Gianaris says will be finished in a few days, would make New York’s gun laws the toughest in the country.
“If we pass that package as a whole, we will become, according to the Brady Center, the number one state in the nation in terms of our gun laws,” he said.
Gianaris’ Democratic party is in the minority in the state Senate. If the bills were to pass, he’d need the support of at least some of the members of the majority GOP Senate conference. So far, none are backing the bills, he says.
“The Senate Republicans have decide to cater to the NRA (National Rifle Association),” said Gianaris, who explained his bills exclude guns used for hunting from the new requirements.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said in the past that he’s a supporter of some of the measures, like micro-stamping. But the governor has not actively pushed for their passage. Gianaris says he’ll be talking to the governor’s aides in the coming days about the new gun control bills that he is writing.
Gianaris says he’s hesitant, though, to politicize the issue, after Sunday’s shooting in the Sikh temple in Wisconsin. For the same reason, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans declined to comment on the issue.