Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Babylon) announced that she passed a gun safety legislative package to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of individuals who are a danger to themselves or others. This package follows two consecutive mass shootings in Buffalo, where an avowed white supremacist killed 10 people, and in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two teachers were killed in an elementary school.
“For too long, our communities have been forced to grieve in the aftermath of devastating tragedies caused by senseless gun violence,” said Jean-Pierre. “We must put a stop to this madness. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community – whether they are attending school or picking up groceries for their family. I’ll continue to fight to protect New Yorkers because we cannot afford to lose any more lives to this deadly epidemic.”
To prevent dangerous firearms from falling into the wrong hands, the gun safety package expands the 2019 red flag law, which allows courts to issue an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) to individuals who are deemed a threat to themselves or others from possessing or purchasing a firearm for up to one year (Ch. 19 of 2019). This legislation expands the law to allow more health care practitioners to petition the court and requires police and district attorneys to file ERPO petitions upon receiving credible information that an individual is likely to engage in behavior that would result in serious harm to themselves or others (A.10502).
Furthermore, it has become far too easy for young people to gain access to firearms. The shooters in both Buffalo and Uvalde had only just turned 18 before legally purchasing semiautomatic rifles and conducting these horrific acts of violence. In fact, six of the nine deadliest mass shootings in the United States since 2018 were done by people aged 21 or younger. To ensure young people cannot get their hands on firearms so easily, the gun safety package includes legislation that requires individuals to obtain a license before purchasing a semiautomatic rifle, thereby raising the age of purchase to 21 (A.10503).
In both these shootings, and many more like them, there were signs of what was to come. In Buffalo, the white supremacist shooter had previously posted violent, racist rants on social media, and in Uvalde, the shooter had threatened women online. Social media sites are often places where violent extremists can spread their message, and these companies are often not held accountable for allowing violent rhetoric to spread on their platforms, even after it was reported. To ensure these companies are taking responsibility for the conduct on their platforms, the bill package includes a measure to require social media networks to provide a clear and concise policy regarding how they would respond to incidents of hateful conduct, as well as maintain easily accessible mechanisms for reporting said conduct (A.7865-A).
Additionally, Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre passed measures that would:
- require all state and local law enforcement agencies to report seized or recovered guns to the criminal gun clearinghouse and provide relevant data for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) data sharing program and National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) (A.1023-A);
- create the crimes of making a threat of mass harm and aggravated making a threat of mass harm (A.6716-A);
- require the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to certify or decline to certify that microstamping-enabled pistols are technologically viable and establish programs and processes for the implementation of such technology (A.7926-A);
- eliminate the grandfathering of large capacity ammunition feeding devices that were lawfully possessed prior to the enactment of the 2013 SAFE Act or manufactured prior to 1994 (A.10428-A);
- make unlawful the purchase and sale of bulletproof vests for anyone who is not engaged in an eligible profession, which includes law enforcement officers and other professions designated by the Department of State in consultation with other agencies, as well as require that any sale of a vest be done in person (A.10497);
- create a new Task Force on Social Media and Violent Extremism in the Attorney General’s office to study and investigate the role of social media companies in promoting and facilitating violent extremism and domestic terrorism online (A.10501); and
- expand the definition of a “firearm” to include any weapon not defined in the Penal Law that is designed or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by action of an explosive (A.10504).