We must pass sensible measures that will save lives
By Daniel Squadron
October 4, 2012
There are lots of issues out there for a special session — including a pay raise for legislators. But after dramatic bloodshed in New York City and across the country, there is one issue that seems to be falling through the cracks: gun violence. That’s why we must go back to Albany for a special session.
This year, 1,329 people have been injured or killed by guns in New York City alone.
Many of those killed were children, including 4-year-old Lloyd Morgan Jr. in the Bronx and 17-year-old Darius Robinson in Brooklyn. Everywhere I go, New Yorkers keep asking for something to be done to end the violence — and it is high time we finally listened to these pleas.
A package of bills in the Senate on which I’ve worked with Sen. Michael Gianaris of Queens and other Democratic colleagues would ensure that New York State has the nation’s strongest gun laws. New York, the leader on so many other legislative fronts throughout the years, can show the rest of the nation the way.
After all, if we can’t take the lead, then who else can?
The common-sense measures we have proposed would be a critical step toward protecting our kids and our streets, but they’re being held up simply because the deep-pocketed gun lobby doesn’t like them.
Take microstamping: Microstamping technology imprints a tiny code on the shell casings that are ejected from a gun when a bullet is fired, allowing police to directly link shootings to guns, and therefore to criminals.
Under the legislation, the cost per gun is capped at a marginal $12. Law enforcement and mayors around the state have come out in support of microstamping — yet it’s been blocked again and again by the gun lobby and its friends in the Legislature.
That’s hardly the only sensible legislation that’s been obstructed.
I have put forth a bill, along with Assembly member Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), that would broaden the definition of “assault weapon” to include a number of military-style guns. There is simply no reason for a civilian to carry these types of high-powered weapons.
But, yet again, special interests have kept these guns on our streets.
Another bill would limit the number of guns someone can buy to one a month, a basic regulation that other states — for example, California — have already implemented.
Other measures we’ve proposed would ensure that gun owners take part in a safety training course and close the loopholes on background checks.
If the violence in New York City does not convince, then the massacres of 12 moviegoers in Colorado and six worshipers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin this summer — not to mention far too many other deadly shootings around the country — should have.
Yet our sensible measures continue to fall victim to special interests. They should not also fall victim to conversations about legislative pay increases.
Of course, strengthening New York’s gun laws alone won’t end the crisis.
Our leaders on the national level — on both sides of the aisle — must act, including by renewing the assault weapons ban, which was shamefully allowed to expire in 2004.
But we in New York can literally act now with a special session.
Before another drop of blood is spilled and another innocent life is lost, New York’s Legislature must do our job and pass these bills.
Squadron is a state senator representing parts of Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.