Assemblyman Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood) announced that he helped pass a comprehensive gun-safety law in an effort to curb the devastating gun violence that has ravaged New York State and the country (Ch. 1 of 2013). The law is entitled the NY SAFE Act (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act).
“Far too many families have been affected by senseless gun violence,” said Assemblyman Ramos. “By passing these common-sense laws we are protecting our neighborhoods from many of the dangers of gun violence, and bringing back a peace of mind.”
Stronger gun-safety measures
The NY SAFE Act will ban all new high-capacity magazines with the capacity to hold more than 7 rounds. Individuals currently legally possessing magazines with a capacity of more than 7 and up to 10 rounds can continue to possess such magazines, but are prohibited from loading them with more than 7 rounds.
In addition, the law also ends the current grandfather clause for high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Individuals who currently legally possess such high capacity magazines will have one year from the effective date to sell or transfer them out of state or to a federally licensed firearms dealer. All people purchasing ammunition will be required to undergo a state background check and present state-issued photo identification. These new requirements will take effect one year from the effective date of the new law.
The NY SAFE Act also strengthens New York’s existing assault weapons ban to prohibit military-style weapons that include one or more features that increase the lethality of a weapon. In addition, there would be a grandfather clause for owners of legal semi-automatic assault weapons provided they apply to register them with the state police within 1 year and 90 days of the effective date of the new law and undergo a background check, Assemblyman Ramos said. Such registrations must be recertified every 5 years.
“For too long, powerful interests like the NRA have consistently blocked these common sense measures to keep our families safe,” said Assemblyman Ramos. “The recent tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut and Webster, NY have once again shown us that high power assault rifles and firearms with high-capacity ammunition clips have no place in our community and are a danger to the safety of our families. The NY SAFE Act puts families first and will prevent the needless loss of innocent lives.”
In addition, the law will:
- require revocation or suspension of the gun license of an individual in cases where an order of protection has been issued and the court has found a substantial risk that the subject of such order may use or threaten to use a firearm unlawfully against the person protected by the order;
- establish a statewide database of handgun licenses to enable the state police to crosscheck the new state background check system to determine if any current licensees have been legally disqualified from possessing firearms under federal law;
- require mental-health professionals to report to law enforcement when they believe a person receiving mental-health services is a danger to themselves or others. Those who possess a firearm license would have their license revoked or suspended and be required to surrender their firearms;
- allow schools to qualify for building aid assistance if they choose to add electronic systems and hardened doors to increase safety;
- update the New York gun licensing statute to ensure those prohibited from possessing firearms on the federal level are not granted a gun license from the state;
- require re-certification of gun licenses on a 5-year cycle to include current name, date of birth, current address and the make, model, serial number and caliber of all firearms possessed;
- allow counties to keep the names and address of gun licensees confidential under certain circumstances;
- require all private sales of firearms, shotguns and rifles to be made through a licensed gun dealer to ensure that a proper background check is performed, unless the sale is between immediate family members; and
- require owners of firearms to safely store such weapons if he/she resides with a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under certain provisions of federal law.
Increasing criminal penalties
The NY SAFE Act will increase the existing penalty for possession of a loaded firearm from 3.5 years to 5 years imprisonment when the defendant is also convicted of a drug sale or violent felony offense as part of the same transaction. Additionally, the penalty for possession of an unloaded firearm during the commission of a drug sale or violent felony will increase from a class A misdemeanor to a class D violent felony.
“To protect our families and keep our streets safe it became evidently clear that we needed to toughen up penalties on criminals that use firearms,” said Assemblyman Ramos. “The NY SAFE Act sends a clear message to criminals: illegal gun use, the purchase of illegal guns or possessing a gun on school grounds will not be tolerated.”
The NY SAFE Act will also:
- increase the penalty for possession of an unloaded firearm from a class A misdemeanor to a class E felony;
- increase the penalty for possession of a gun on school grounds from a class A misdemeanor to a class E felony;
- clarify that an individual can be prosecuted for criminal facilitation for making available, sharing, selling, exchanging, giving or disposing of a “community gun” that helps another person commit a crime;
- create a new elevated crime of Aggravated Enterprise Corruption for commission of multiple class B felonies and other gun-related crimes. This new crime is a class A-I felony punishable by a mandatory life sentence with a minimum term of between 15 and 25 years;
- increase the penalty for purchasing a firearm on behalf of another person who is legally prohibited from possessing a firearm (known as a “straw purchase”) from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony;
- increase the penalty for recklessly causing physical injury to a child with a firearm from a class A misdemeanor to a class D violent felony; and
- increase the penalty for failing to report a lost or stolen firearm and ammunition from a $100 fine to a class A misdemeanor.
Strengthening Kendra’s Law
Specifically, the law will:
- require the evaluation of the need for Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) prior to the expiration of the order;
- require the county director of community services to notify the director in another county when a person subject to an AOT order has moved to that county;
- extend the maximum duration of an initial AOT order from 6 months to 1 year;
- require inmates being released to the community from a mental health hospital to undergo review for an AOT order; and
- extend the sunset provision of Kendra’s Law from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2017.