Speaker Carl Heastie on Monday announced the New York State Assembly passed legislation that will expand current requirements that guns are kept in safe storage repositories, especially in households with children (A.2686A, Paulin).
“Today’s bill is another important step in preventing gun violence,” Heastie said. “Earlier this year, we passed a package of legislation that addressed some of the root causes of gun violence. I am proud of our continued work with our Senate colleagues to ensure New York has the strongest and safest possible gun laws, and help keep our kids safe in our homes and in our communities.”
“Today’s legislation is the next logical step in keeping our children and families safe from gun violence,” Codes Committee Chairman Joseph Lentol said. “The Assembly majority is dedicated to keeping weapons out of the hands of people who should not have them – whether that’s dangerous criminals or kids who are playing around the house and come upon them.”
“Despite all our progress, it is still simply too easy for guns to fall into the wrong hands,” said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. “Preventing children from obtaining access to firearms by requiring safe storage will enable us to prevent accidents, suicides and school incidents that put our children in harm’s way. It is an important step that will keep our families safe without impinging on the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Under current law, safe storage of guns is only required if a person living in the household is federally prohibited from owning a gun, but not if there are children in the house. This legislation would require that, in households with children and individuals prohibited from possessing a gun by federal or state law, all guns are safely stored when not in possession of the gun owner. In homes with children, failure to safely store guns would be a class A misdemeanor. Individuals would also be required to safely store their guns when children are present in their homes, even if the children do not reside there. The bill would also require licensing officers to provide notice about safe storage of firearms. In addition, people, firms or businesses who sell firearms, rifles or shotguns would be required to conspicuously post notification of safe storage laws where guns are displayed or transferred to the buyer.
A 2017 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found that, between 2012-14, on average nearly 1,300 children died and 5,790 were treated for gunshot wounds each year. Of these, 53 percent were homicides, 38 percent were suicides and 6 percent were unintentional deaths. Preventing children from obtaining firearms by requiring safe storage is designed to help prevent child accidents and suicides.
Oksana Naumkin, whose 12-year-old son, Nicholas, was unintentionally shot and killed by a friend who was playing with an unlocked and loaded gun, said, “I am grateful that the New York State Legislature finally passed child access prevention legislation, and would like to thank all of the wonderful people whose passion and determination prevailed. It took a village, but we did it, and we are finally moving in the right direction with regard to sensible gun laws! My son, Nicholas, loved Charlie Chaplin, the ‘Honeymooners’ and the Beatles. He was quite an actor and an artist, loved computer animation and wanted to study journalism. Nicholas was a kind soul and befriended new kids on the bus and at school and stood up to bullies. His future was supposed to be very bright and it was senselessly taken from him and all of us.
“A grief such as this never leaves you; you learn to live with it! As we continue to struggle every day for the past eight years, we have fought hard alongside New Yorkers Against Gun Violence to make New York safer for our children. I am glad that we are now able to honor Nicholas’s memory as he would never have had it any other way. We look forward to seeing Gov. Cuomo sign this lifesaving bill, so that no other family has to live with the pain my family will live with for the rest of our lives.”
Rebecca Fischer, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence executive director, said, “Today, New York state has again made it a priority to protect our communities by passing this sensible gun violence prevention legislation. For over 20 years, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence has been fighting for a child access prevention law in New York state to prevent unintentional shootings, teen suicides, school shootings and gun thefts. After Nicholas's death, the Naumkin family came to us with both sorrow and hope that together we could strengthen our laws to protect children living in homes with guns. We are grateful to now have New York lawmakers who have the courage to pass this common-sense bill that will prevent tragedies and protect all children and communities across New York.”
New York State Sen. Rob Ortt opposed the measure. He said, “Not only is today’s firearm storage legislation irresponsible, but it is also impractical and unnecessary. The passage of this legislation further highlights the utter disdain New York City regressives hold against the legal gun owners of our state, and illustrates their ignorance regarding Second Amendment protections. By requiring firearms to be stored and locked away in safes, lawmakers are infringing on the fundamental American right of self-protection, and they are doing so in a manner that has already been ruled unconstitutional in D.C. v Heller. Either Democrats have no idea how firearms work or they are solely resolved to make them cost-prohibitive and inaccessible to American citizens.”