Tighten Up The Gun Laws

Eric T. Schneiderman

When Jiverly Wong obtained a pistol permit in 1997, it was the first and last time he had to prove he was fit to possess a handgun.

The permit was good for the rest of his life — a life that ended when a clearly disturbed Wong went on a shooting rampage April 3 in a Binghamton immigration center, killing 13 people, then himself.

In a state that makes drivers get a new license every eight years and requires masseuses to reregister annually, it's more than a little odd not to check in, at least once in a while, to make sure everything is OK with people who possess deadly, easily concealable weapons. Some lawmakers agree, and have put forward sensible, fair legislation to address this gap in the law.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, and Sen. Eric Schneiderman, D-Bronx, would require that pistol permits be renewed every five years, which already is done in New York City and Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties. If adopted, the law would require counties to run background checks similar to those done for an initial permit.

Those checks would make sure the holder hasn't been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, isn't the subject of an order of protection and hasn't been found to have a mental defect or been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.

They would also check the person's references, typically four people who are not related to the applicant.

The proposed law contains a provision to protect gun owners from a slow bureaucracy. Submitting a renewal application would automatically extend the license until the permit review process is finished, and the application is approved or denied. It's a crucial provision in a state where, in some counties, applications take six months to process.

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