Comments by Senator Brad Hoylman on Signing of The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act

Halloween is only a few days away, so it’s appropriate that we are discussing something truly frightening in our communities: ghost guns.

The advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety says that ghost guns are the fastest growing gun safety problem facing our country. 

Here in New York, Albany enacted historic gun safety legislation in 2013, making our gun laws the toughest in the nation.

But gun manufacturers and dealers have exploited a loophole in the law, which doesn’t require background checks for unassembled gun parts that someone can turn into a deadly weapon at home.

All one has to do is go to a website like to see how flagrantly these retailers market their products.

This problem is only getting worse. In the last 3 years, we’ve seen a 479% increase in ghost gun seizures across the State of New York.

There have been a lot of promises in Washington to address ghost guns, but no action. 

But today, New York is once again taking the lead in ending the gun violence epidemic.

Our law,The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, being signed today prohibits the sale or possession of any gun that is not serialized and registered with the State.  

We are going to require that gunsmiths promptly put a serial number on any gun or gun part in their possession and register it with the State.  

This will help ensure that law enforcement can trace ghost guns assembled from unfinished parts, and together with Senator Kaplan’s bill, ensure that these ghost guns and parts don’t fall into the wrong hands.

And I wanted to say a few words about this bill’s namesake, Jose Webster.

On the night of September 15, 2011, Jose was walking his girlfriend home when two men assaulted him. One of those men shot him to death just ten days after his sixteenth birthday. 

Nathalie Arzu, Jose’s sister, is a gun safety advocate with Moms Demand Action and the founder of Stories Beyond Statistics, a nonprofit focused on changing the narrative of gun violence in America. 

Nathalie couldn’t be here today because of a medical issue with her mother. However she wanted me to share the following:

On September 5, Jose would have turned 26 years old. Last month was the 10 year anniversary since Jose was taken from his family, friends and community.  Jose had a smile that would light up a room.  Jose was a little, big brother to all his siblings. This bill being signed today will protect families so they don’t experience what my family has. Remember this is a marathon not a sprint. 

In addition to Nathalie and Jose’s family, I’d like to thank my Assembly colleague on the legislation, Linda Rosenthal, along with my partner in the Senate, Anna Kaplan, Assembly member Chuck Levine, the Biegle family, and the advocates Everytown for Gun Safety and my former colleague Kendall Jacobsen who is working for Everytown and drafted our bills, Rebecca Fischer from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, the Brady United Against Gun Violence, the Giffords Law Center, Jackie Rowe Adams of Harlem Mothers SAVE, and of course Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Governor Hochul for their leadership.