Gianaris urges Albany to act on gun violence with longer background checks

State Sen. Michael Gianaris rallies with school children in Albany where his Effective Background Checks Act was endorsed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Courtesy Gianaris’ office
By Bill Parry

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Fla., mass shooting, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) says it time for action and is calling on Senate Republicans to support inclusion of his Effective Background Checks Act in the 2018-19 New York State Budget.

The proposal would extend the time for a background check to be completed from the current three days to 10 before a firearm can be transferred.

“More responsible gun laws will make our communities safer, keep firearms away from dangerous people and ensure preventable tragedies do not happen,” Gianaris said. “My Effective Background Checks Act has now been endorsed by the Senate Democratic Conference, the Assembly majority, and the governor. It is time for Senate Republicans to get on board and include this commonsense idea in the state budget.”

Earlier this month, Senate Republicans blocked an effort by Gianaris and the Senate Democrats to pass several gun safety proposals, including the Effective Background Checks Act. This legislation would close the “Charleston Loophole” in New York — where a prospective gun purchaser can buy a firearm in three days, whether or not a background check has been completed. That provision was what allowed Dylann Roof, who killed nine people at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, 2015, to buy his firearm.

There is currently a three-day waiting period for a background check to be completed before a seller can transfer a firearm to a purchaser. If the check is not completed in that time, the firearm may be sold without any background check. Over 300,000 background checks were not concluded in the three-day period in 2016 alone, Gianaris said. His proposal would extend the waiting period to 10 days so that proper background checks would be completed in all cases.

Gianaris’ bill would also require firearms dealers to report to police any attempts to make illegal gun purchases and would require employees of gun manufacturers and dealers to also undergo background checks. The state budget deadline is April 1.

Meanwhile, state Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (D-Maspeth) introduced legislation that would establish a commission to study how to make schools in New York less vulnerable to school shootings and bombers through various technologies, including bulletproof glass and doors, lockdown systems, barricades and auto locking systems.

“Enough is enough. Our children are under attack,” Barnwell said. “This commonsense legislation will bring together pertinent individuals to study the effectiveness of different technologies that could be implemented in schools to eliminate and/or reduce casualties in a school shooter or bomber event. We cannot wait any longer for change. We must protect our children. If Congress will not act, the states must.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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