Op-Ed: Sensible gun laws would make our streets safer


Recent horrific acts of gun violence should lead us all to say “enough is enough.” It is long past time to improve our gun laws and make our streets safer. Almost every day, we hear about another senseless attack in New York City, where the number of shootings over the last year has increased by 12 percent, as well as mass murders resulting from gun violence across the country, highlighted by the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and in Milwaukee.

While New York currently has some effective gun laws, more can be done to strengthen our laws and prevent further tragedies. That is why I introduced a package of sensible gun bills which, combined with previously introduced legislation by my colleagues, would make New York the nation’s toughest on guns, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

One of the largest loopholes in our gun laws is their inability to sufficiently address firearm sales on the illegal secondary market, which is where guns that had been previously purchased legally are re-sold, unregulated and off the books. Transactions taking place on the secondary market do not follow the legal standards and requirements mandated for purchase from licensed dealers. Data from the year 2000 shows that 20 percent of all retail handguns recovered from crimes were purchased in a multi-firearm sale. A key component in my proposals would limit gun purchases to one per month, which would help prevent gun traffickers from making bulk purchases and reselling them to people who should not have them.

Another loophole in current gun laws is the ability to purchase a firearm on the secondary market without undergoing a background check. Firearms sold privately between individuals are not regulated and therefore do not require a background check, accounting for up to 40 percent of all gun sales nationwide. It is easy to imagine a scenario where someone who knows he or she would fail a background check getting a friend to make a legal purchase only to turn around and sell the gun to him or her without scrutiny. Another one of my bills would limit the possibility of such illegal sales by requiring private firearm sales to be conducted through a licensed firearm dealer so that a background check on the prospective buyer is conducted.

My sensible gun proposals would close other loopholes relating to the ability to purchase a gun, including establishing a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm, requiring all prospective gun owners to obtain a firearm safety certificate and establishing a 10-year record retention policy for all gun and ammunition sales. Bills requiring the microstamping of ammunition for all handguns, introduced by Senator Jose Peralta, and banning assault weapons, introduced by Senator Daniel Squadron, would also better ensure our public safety and help solve crimes.

My package of bills would not only help decrease the number of gun violence attacks in New York by preventing guns from falling into the wrong hands but would also set an example for states across the country to establish stronger, more responsible regulations. These sensible measures have received a wide range of support not only among state legislators but also from the Brady Campaign, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, law enforcement officials and labor groups. The recent nationwide rash of gun violence highlights the need for stricter gun laws as too many weapons are falling into the wrong hands and causing unnecessary pain and suffering to innocent individuals and their families. I look forward to seeing this coalition of support grow as we continue to push for the passage of these important measures.

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