Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. 55th District announced that he helped pass comprehensive gun-safety legislation in an effort to curb the devastating gun violence that has ravaged New York State and the country (A.2388).
“The massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., and first responders in Webster, N.Y., were horrific tragedies, but – sadly – we see terrible gun violence every day in cities and neighborhoods across New York,” Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. said. “We need aggressive legislation to put a stop to the madness. The Assembly’s measure takes a comprehensive look at the issue of gun violence and provides real solutions by strengthening gun-control measures and safety, increasing criminal penalties for the illegal use of guns and ensuring that those who may be a danger to themselves or others due to a mental illness do not have access to firearms.”
Stronger gun-safety measures
This legislation would strengthen New York’s existing assault weapons ban to prohibit weapons that include one or more of the features that increase the lethality of a semi-automatic weapon. Further tightening the law, there would be a grandfather clause for owners of legal semi-automatic weapons provided they register them with the state police, recertify the registration every 5 years and undergo a background check, Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. said.
Additionally, this bill would remove a grandfather clause that exists under current law and ban all high-capacity ammunition clips with the capacity to hold more than 10 rounds. From this day forward, no clips with the capacity to hold more than 7 rounds can be sold. It would also require all people purchasing ammunition to undergo a state background check and present state-issued photo identification.
“Plain and simple: death tolls rise when semi-automatic assault weapons and large amounts of ammunition are used in shootings,” Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. said. “The Assembly’s legislation would take those options off the table before more tragedies of unthinkable magnitude can occur.”
In addition, this bill would:
- revoke and/or suspend the gun license of an individual upon issuance of an order of protection by a court of law;
- establish a statewide database of handgun licenses to enable the state police to crosscheck the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to determine if any current licensees have been legally disqualified from possessing firearms under federal law;
- create statewide standards for handgun-license applications;
- require mental-health professionals to report to law enforcement when they believe a person receiving mental-health services is a danger to themselves or others. Those who possess a firearm license would have their license revoked or suspended and be required to surrender their firearms;
- allow schools to qualify for reimbursement of building aid assistance if they choose to add electronic systems and hardened doors to increase safety;
- update the New York gun licensing statute to ensure those prohibited from possessing firearms on the federal level are not granted a gun license from the state;
- require re-certification of gun licenses on a 5-year cycle to include current name, date of birth, current address and the make, model, serial number and caliber of all firearms possessed;
- allow counties to keep the names and address of gun licensees confidential under certain circumstances;
- require all private sales of firearms, shotguns and rifles to be made through a licensed gun dealer to ensure that a proper background check is performed, unless the sale is between immediate family members; and
- require owners of firearms to safely store such weapons if he/she resides with a person who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under certain provisions of federal law.
Increasing criminal penalties
“It’s imperative that we strengthen the penalties for criminal use of guns,” Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. said. “This includes how we charge drug dealers and violent criminals who are involved in illegal gun use, gun purchasing for prohibited persons, having a gun on school grounds and causing physical injury to a child with a gun. We can do better, and this bill will help us get there.”
The Assembly’s legislation would increase the existing penalty for possession of a loaded firearm from 3.5 years to 5 years imprisonment when the defendant is also convicted of a drug sale or violent felony offense as part of the same charge. Additionally, the penalty for possession of an unloaded firearm in this situation would increase from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony.
The Assembly’s bill would also:
- increase the penalty for possession of an unloaded firearm from a class A misdemeanor to a class E felony;
- increase the penalty for unlicensed possession of a gun on school grounds from a class A misdemeanor to a class E felony;
- clarify that an individual can be prosecuted for criminal facilitation for making available, sharing, selling, exchanging, giving or disposing of a “community gun” which helps another person commit a crime;
- create a new elevated crime of Aggravated Enterprise Corruption for commission of multiple class B felonies and gun-related crimes, a class A-I felony punishable by a mandatory life sentence with a minimum term of between 15 and 25 years;
- increase the penalty for straw purchases of firearms from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony;
- increase the penalty for recklessly causing physical injury to a child with a firearm from a class A misdemeanor to a class D violent felony; and
- increase the penalty for failing to report a lost or stolen firearm and ammunition from a $100 fine to a class A misdemeanor.
“In light of the recent tragedy in Webster, N.Y., this bill would also add first responders to the aggravated murder statute, ensuring that murderers of first responders get a life sentence without parole,” Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. said.
Strengthening Kendra’s Law to address mental-health aspect of gun safety
“We cannot solve our gun violence problem without addressing mental-health issues,” Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. said. “The Assembly’s bill will tighten Kendra’s Law to better protect gun owners deemed to have a mental illness and the community.”
Specifically, the bill would:
- require the evaluation of the need for Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) prior to the expiration of the order;
- require the county director of community services to notify the director in another county when a person subject to an AOT order has moved to that county;
- extend the maximum duration of an initial AOT order from 6 months to 1 year;
- require inmates being released to the community from a mental health hospital to undergo review for an AOT order; and
- extend the sunset provision of Kendra’s Law from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2017.
“There is no quick fix to the troubling issue of gun violence, nor is there only one way to approach it,” Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. said. “Our legislation takes a holistic view and provides concrete measures to tackle the issue. Doing nothing is not an option. Making New York a safer place for our families is always my number one priority.”