By Joe Anuta
A Queens lawmaker called out state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and his party Monday, urging the Republican leader to bring a controversial gun control measure to a vote during a special session in Albany.
Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) asked Skelos and his colleagues to visit the five boroughs, especially in light of a recent spike in gun violence, in order to see why the city’s lawmakers, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, support microstamping.
“Come in from the suburbs and upstate,” Peralta said.
“Bring your members along with you. Instead of keeping each other company at a fancy hotel, get out and talk to people,” he said.
Microstamping is the process of engraving the end of every firing pin in semi-automatic handguns with a unique, microscopic code. When the firing pin hits the back of a shell casing, creating a small explosion and ejecting a bullet, that code is stamped onto the shell, in theory allowing any law enforcement officials who might happen to find it at a crime scene to trace where the gun was made and to whom it was first sold.
The bill has already passed the Democratic-controlled state Assembly several times, but has not yet been brought to a vote in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.
But a spokesman for Skelos countered that a microstamping bill was already brought to a vote in the Senate when it was Democratically controlled several years ago, and that it could not even pass then.
“We did not take up the microstamping bill this year,” said Scott Reif. “It’s an unproven technology, and we will continue to look at the issue.”
The National Rifle Association and other gun-advocacy groups are fierce opponents of the plan, calling it ineffective and an assault on the federal right to bear arms.
A video on the NRA website contends that the firing pins could be altered too easily, while other arguments against the process question how often the stamps would be legible.
The NRA and other gun groups have poured money into election coffers in the Empire State, according to Peralta.
Peralta, the sponsor of the bill in the Senate, was speaking in front of Queens Borough Hall, at 120-55 Queens Blvd., alongside the other sponsor, Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck) and Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing).
Meng is running for Congress and vowed to push for microstamping on a federal level, along with several other gun-control initiatives, including requiring employees of arms dealers and gunsmiths to submit to a criminal background check, requiring a background check for the sale of every firearm and allowing a judge to take away guns from someone deemed mentally ill.
The push for microstamping comes when Albany may convene for an emergency session to deal with tax issues affecting condominium and co-op owners in the city, but Peralta wants the microstamping bill heard as well.
Between July 2 and 8, 77 New Yorkers were shot, according to Meng’s office, a 28 percent increase over last year.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.