Senate Democrats push for gun bills

Jimmy Vielkind

February 06, 2018

Originally published in Politico NY on February 06, 2018

Senate Democrats push for gun bills

By Jimmy Vielkind

02/06/2018 04:35 PM EDT

ALBANY — Democrats in the state Senate are pushing for stricter gun controls, saying that while New York's 2013 SAFE Act gave the state some of the tightest gun control regulations in the country, there's more work to be done.

"It seems that every day, unfortunately, we wake up to other headlines of another mass shooting or gun crime," Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said at a Tuesday press conference. "We have to say that enough is enough and that this madness really has to stop."

She and her colleagues touted nine bills, including a measure to lengthen the time allotted for firearm dealers to perform background checks from three to 10 days, NY S5808 (17R), and a measure to establish a firearm violence research institute, NY S4363 (17R).

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) authored a bill, NY S7072 (17R), that would prevent anyone convicted of a hate crime from purchasing a firearm.

"This bill expresses the notion that if you are convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime, you should not be permitted to possess a gun in New York," Kavanagh said. "There is growing evidence that certain crimes and certain activities are likely a predictor of violence."

He has also proposed a bill, NY S7133 (17R), to create an "extreme risk order of protection," under which someone would be able to petition a judge to order that another person surrender their firearms. Other states, including Connecticut, have similar legislation, which has led to a measurable reduction in suicide.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) also made the push for NY S6902 (17R), which would ban bump fire stocks that let a shooter use a semi-automatic firearm in a way that simulates an automatic weapon. Stephen Paddock, the man who shot hundreds of people in Las Vegas last year, used such a device — which is federally permitted but falls into a gray area of New York law.

Hoylman said he believes the stocks are illegal to use on a firearm, but legal to buy and possess.

Republicans, who control the flow of legislation in the state Senate, have not shown any appetite to take up additional gun control measures. In 2013, nine GOP senators crossed party lines and supported Democrats to pass the SAFE Act, NY S2230 (13R), in the weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre.

Scott Reif, a spokesman for Majority Leader John Flanagan, did not comment.

Stewart-Cousins said she hadn't heard of any Republican supporters for the bills.

"Not as yet, but hope springs eternal," she said.