Kaplan-backed ‘ghost gun’ legislation passes State Senate

Originally published in The Island Now on February 12, 2021.

The state Senate passed legislation on Feb. 10 sponsored by Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) to crack down on “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms used by criminals to evade background checks.

The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receivers Act, sponsored by Kaplan, prohibits the possessions of unfinished frames or receivers without a gunsmith license; prohibits the possession of major components of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by persons who are otherwise lawfully prohibited from possessing such weapons; and makes it illegal to sell or transfer an unfinished frame or receiver to anyone other than a licensed gunsmith.

It will next go to the state Assembly, where the bill is sponsored in the state Assembly by Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove).

During the COVID-19 crisis, gun violence has spiked; as have sales of firearms and ghost guns. At the beginning of the pandemic, gun manufacturers reported massive sales of ghost gun kits; at least 16 manufacturers told customers they were experiencing shipping delays due to a high volume of orders, according to Kaplan’s office.

“If you can’t pass a background check to obtain a firearm legally, then you shouldn’t be able to circumvent the process by making your own out of parts you bought online either,” Kaplan said. “The ‘unfinished receiver loophole’ in our gun laws allows too many dangerous ghost guns into our community every year, and with the rise of extremism across the country driving huge demand for these untraceable weapons, we must take action to close it right away.”

The legislation passed the state Senate nearly three years after the tragic shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018, during which the bill’s namesake, Long Island native, teacher and coach Scott Beigel, was killed by an active shooter while herding 31 students to safety in his classroom. Since the shooting, Beigel’s mother Linda Beigel Schulman, a native of the Roslyn area, has become an active advocate for gun safety.

“I am truly overwhelmed and humbled by the actions of Senator Anna Kaplan, and the New York State Senate today in honoring Scott with the passage of Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act,” Beigel Schulman said in a statement. “Senator Anna Kaplan is by far one of the most honest, dedicated and caring individuals we have working for us in our government. My sentiments are not because this bill is named in honor of my son Scott. My sentiments come from working with and knowing the person, Anna Kaplan. Anna Kaplan fights for what she believes in. Anna Kaplan fights for the good for all of us. Anna Kaplan fights for what she knows will keep us all safe from totally unnecessary and preventable gun violence. We all need to give thanks to Senator Anna Kaplan for her caring, listening, and continuous fighting, against all odds, for all of us. That being said, this legislation is only the first step. When passed by the New York State Assembly and signed by Governor Cuomo, this legislation will save lives. This legislation will help keep us all safe from senseless and preventable gun violence.”

“As we mark three years since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, I couldn’t be more proud to sponsor ‘The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act,’ which will close the dangerous unfinished receiver loophole, because I know that it will save lives,” Kaplan said in a statement. “I’m so grateful to Scott’s parents Linda and Michael for their passionate advocacy for sensible gun safety laws, to Senator Brad Hoylman for his leadership and partnership on this legislation, and I’m thankful for the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea-Stewart Cousins for always ensuring that the Senate is responsive to the needs of our community.”