I was deeply saddened by the shocking and horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut as well as the ambush of fire fighters in Webster, New York. My heart goes out to the victims, their families and the towns of Newtown and Webster. Here in Brooklyn we have also unfortunately witnessed our share of gun violence. Stopping gun violence has always been a top priority for me as a State Senator. I strongly believe that we need to get guns off our streets, keep guns out of the hands of our children and punish those who use guns in the commission of crimes. For many years I sponsored legislation to strengthen our gun laws as well as to strengthen penalties on those who use guns in the commission of crimes. I am very pleased to report that I voted in the affirmative on the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act( SAFE NY Act of 2013) that will make New York’s gun laws the toughest in the United States. This important legislation incorporated many of my own thoughts and ideas on gun control. This measure will:
· Classify more guns as assault weapons; require current owners of assault weapons under the new definitions to register their weapons with the New York State Police;
· Increase penalties on criminals who use guns during the commission of crimes;
· Lower the amount of ammunition that can be loaded into a magazine from 10 bullets to 7;
· Creating a registry to track sales of ammunition and requiring that ammunition be purchased through a licensed dealer;
· Requiring pistol permit holders to register every five years;
· Require background checks for private sales of guns;
· Classify the murder of a first-responder such as an emergency medical technition or firefighter as a Class A-1 felony punishable by life imprisonment without the possibility of parole;
I have long known that the solution to gun violence is not as simple as locking up those who use weapons. Preventing violence before it happens, especially among our young people, is also vitally important to making our streets safer. I have financially supported numerous community organizations that provide after-school programs, alternatives to violence programs and dispute mediation programs to the young people of Brooklyn. As your State Senator I was privileged to bring the S.N.U.G. Anti-violence program to the local area using a $500,000 State grant.
The road to gun control has been a long one for me in Albany. Please be assured that I will continue to work to bring an end to gun violence and make our community safer for everyone.
Finally, while I have sponsored programs and legislation designed to stop gun violence, I cannot do it alone. In the very near future I will be holding a roundtable discussion with our community to discuss your ideas for a solution to end gun violence in our neighborhoods. My office will announce a time and date for this important event and it is my strong hope that you can join me to share your thoughts and ideas.