Sen. Thomas proposes new bill to stem flow of illegal guns from out of state
The shooting of a 7-year-old girl in Hempstead is renewing residents' demand for tougher penalties on gun sales and trafficking.
The girl was shot in the arm while playing with her brother in her own backyard Saturday.
"She said, 'Why did they shoot me, why did they shoot me, who shot me,'" says the girl's grandmother, Patricia Simmons. "She doesn't even know."
The young victim's mother joined elected officials in front of the Hempstead Police Department to demand tougher gun laws.
"Our gun laws on criminal possession of a firearm are too lax," says Sen. Kevin Thomas. "Guns comes from the south up called 'the iron pipeline.'"
Thomas says that the "iron pipeline" is the I-95 corridor where gun traffickers drive up from the south to sell illegal guns to New Yorkers.
He proposed legislation to stop the flow of illegal guns by imposing harsher sentences for the criminal sale of a firearm. If the bill becomes law, it would lower the number of illegal firearms needed to qualify for a first- or second-degree felony offense
Thomas says the two changes will serve as a "powerful deterrent" to criminals who bring in illegal guns from another state.
Mothers like Stephanie Draine who lost her son to gun violence say it will take more than police and legislation to get guns off the street.
"We need to be more involved," Draine says. "At some point, we have to hold ourselves accountable as well."
Police say they haven't made any arrests in Saturday's shooting and continue to investigate.
Hempstead police say within a few months, they've been able to take 70 illegal guns off the street.
They do, however, say they need more help and hope Thomas' proposed legislation gets through.