Queens lawmakers help Assembly pass new round of gun reform measures in wake of Florida massacre

Photo via Pxhere

Northeast Queens lawmakers were among those who voted in favor of a package of bills that would enact a number of gun reform measures throughout the state.

Legislation intended to prevent and reduce gun violence in New York state passed the Assembly on March 6, a few weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were murdered. The bill will now go before the Republican-controlled state Senate, where some of the bills were already introduced as hostile amendments by Democrats and voted down late last month.

One of the measures would extend the wait period before a gun may be delivered to a purchaser yet to clear a background check. Under current federal regulations, gun dealers must conduct a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before a sale. The NICS system responds with one of three messages: “proceed,” “denied” or “delayed.”

If the response is “delayed,” the dealer may still complete the sale after three business days while the FBI continues to investigate. According to the FBI, more than 15,000 gun sales went forward between 2010 and 2014 to individuals who were prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm because the determination could not be made within three business days.

The new bill, passed by the Assembly, would increase this regulation to 10 business days, giving authorities more time to come to a decision.

Bayside, Douglaston and Little Neck Assembly representative Edward Braunstein called the extended waiting period a “common sense approach which would help ensure that an individual has cleared a background check before he or she is able to purchase a gun.”

The bill is sponsored in the state Senate by fellow Bayside-based lawmaker Tony Avella.

Passed legislation also included measures to ban bump stocks (devices used to make legal firearms function like machine guns), prevent individuals determined to be a danger to themselves or others from possessing or purchasing firearms through a court-ordered “extreme risk protection order,” and prevent those convicted of a domestic violence crime from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

“More than half of all female homicide victims in the United States are murdered by an intimate partner, with nearly three women killed every day,” Braunstein said. “One step in preventing further tragedies is ensuring that their abusers don’t have a gun.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie called the legislation “an important step in our continuing effort to address the root causes of gun violence in our communities.”

“We will continue fighting to ensure that we have the strongest and smartest laws possible to keep citizens and communities safe,” Heastie said.

Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, who represents areas of Flushing, Fresh Meadows and Bayside, also spoke out in favor of the package of legislation.

“[On March 6,] the Assembly took action against gun violence by passing common sense legislation that would close loopholes in the law and keep New Yorkers safe,” Rozic said. “While the federal government continues debating over life-saving gun control measures, we are confronting the issue head-on to improve background checks, keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and prevent the mass shootings that have shaken up schools and communities across the nation.”

Rozic has also sponsored and introduced the “Safe Homes Act,” which would authorize law enforcement officers to remove firearms from premises where there has been a report of domestic violence. The bill is currently in committee.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), New York has the third lowest rate of gun death in the country. In 2016, 900 people were killed by guns in the state.