Sen. Peralta Calls For Bipartisan Gun-Control Law

Jose Peralta

August 01, 2012

As reported by the New York Daily News:

State Sen. Jose Peralta called for legislators to set aside partisanship to pass a new gun control law to keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill.

"Believe it or not, in New York State, a violent, mentally ill individual can keep a gun even after being identified by a court as a danger to society," Peralta said.

The legislation, Peralta said, would allow a judge to take away an individual's gun license if that person is determined to be mentally ill. Currently, according to Peralta, the judge has an option to ask for the gun license, but this legislation would mandate it.

New York prides itself on "innovation and showing the way for the rest of the country" Peralta said. This is a fact that the NRA is acutely aware of.

"Not surprisingly, the NRA spends more money here on legislative campaigns in New York than in any other place in the country," Peralta said. "The NRA is concerned with what becomes law in New York will have a domino effect across the country."

Peralta used the example of the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which a student killed more than 30 people to underline why he said the mentally ill should be denied firearms.

"A judge had determined that the man who would be the shooter had presented, 'an imminent danger as a result of mental illness,'" Peralta said. "I propose this commonsense bill as a first step toward bipartisan action on this matter of life and death."

The legislation taking gun licenses away from the mentally ill is something "the NRA is okay with," Peralta said. Shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said his group believed a person should be denied a firearm if they are found to be mentally deficient, suicidal, or a danger to themselves or others.

Peralta argued that Republicans in the state Senate are working to stall the bill despite the fact that the legislation has been passed four years in a row in the State Assembly.

"If there was ever a time and if there was ever an issue for both sides to do everything possible to find common ground, now is the time, and gun violence is the issue," Peralta said.

Additionally, state Sen. Malcolm Smith said there will be a press conference Sunday on the "ammo bill," which deals with high caliber magazines, and that he is continuing to push for a microstamping bill.

"In the state of New York, high caliber magazines are legal. New York City is the only place that it's not legal. So those are the two that we're pushing right now," he said.

Update: Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif sent the following response to The Daily Politics: "While we're always interested in working to improve public safety, Senator Peralta's attack should be viewed for what it is -- naked political grandstanding designed to raise his profile for an all-but-certain run for the Queens Borough President. If this were really about doing the right thing, he wouldn't be holding an event calling for the Legislature to act on a bill six weeks after it has concluded its 2012 session. New Yorkers deserve more."

Update: Peralta spox Frank Sobrino responds, "The Senate Republican spokesman seems to have forgotten that he responded to a Daily News inquiry about this very bill two weeks before the conclusion of the legislative session. The spokesman gave the usual Republican dodge on gun bills: 'No decision has been made at this time.' Translation: Republicans have no intention whatsoever of standing up to the NRA. "

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