FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 5, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND SPEAKER QUINN INTRODUCE NEW LEGISLATION IN THE FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS AND GUN VIOLENCE
Groundbreaking Legislation Includes Creation of a Ban on Gun Coloration Kits and a Gun Offenders Registry
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, joined by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Council Public Safety Chair Peter F. Vallone, Jr., today announced the introduction of four pieces of legislation intended to combat gun violence. The legislation includes: the Gun Offender Registration Act for individuals convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree; a one handgun every-three-month purchase limit; an Inventory bill, which would require city gun dealers to physically examine their inventories twice a year; and a ban on gun coloration kits used to disguise real guns in 'toy-like' colors. Adopting new local legislation is a key part of the Mayor's three-prong approach to combat illegal guns - a strategy that also includes innovative litigation and increased enforcement. The legislation will be introduced at the City Council's next stated meeting on June 13. The Mayor was also joined today by Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt for the announcement at City Hall.
"The fight against illegal guns isn't waged only on the streets," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Creating local laws that make enforcement easier and prevention more effective is critical in the fight to keep illegal guns off our streets and out of the hands of criminals. Speaker Quinn, Council Member Vallone and the City Council are great partners in the fight against illegal guns and with the introduction of these four pieces of legislation, we'll continue to make the nation's safest big city even safer."
"Last year, over 300 New Yorkers, many of them children, were killed with illegal guns," said Speaker Quinn. "We won't stand by any longer. Today the Council and the Mayor are together taking our fight for safe streets to the source and we're telling those criminals who stockpile guns, who paint their weapons to look like toys, who possess illegal guns - watch out. Today is just the first step in our ongoing fight against illegal guns. We won't back down until we rid our City of the weapons that are endangering residents and taking innocent lives."
"Once again, Washington is letting New York down and we are forced to take action to protect ourselves," said Council Member Vallone. "I commend the Mayor and the Speaker for their bold action."
Ban on Gun Coloration Kits
The legislative package includes a ban on the use and sale of gun coloration kits, which are used to paint guns in "toy-like" colors. Gun coloration kits are currently available for purchase over the Internet and through gun dealers. These kits are designed to color guns in a number of bright fluorescent shades, making them easily mistakable for toy guns - with potentially deadly consequences for police officers and New Yorkers. This legislation would make it illegal to color real guns to mimic toys. In 1999, the City Council passed a law requiring all toy guns to be certain pastel or fluorescent colors so that children would be prevented from mistaking a toy gun for a real one and so that Police Officers could also make that quick distinction. The availability and use of these gun coloration kits directly contradicts current law and this proposed legislation would directly address that.
Gun Offender Registration Act
The Gun Offender Registration Act would require individuals convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree to register their current addresses and personally report to the NYPD every six months. Registration requirements would continue for four years after conviction. If an offender does not fully comply with the registry, it is a violation of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in prison. The crimes in this category include illegal possession of a loaded handgun, possession of three or more illegal handguns, a convicted felon in possession of a handgun, possession of an assault weapon and possession of a disguised firearm.
If the Gun Offender Registration Act is passed, New York City would be the first in the nation to establish a registry of this nature. Each year, approximately 750 individuals are convicted of these types of crimes in the City. Statistics show that individuals convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree are more likely to be rearrested than other felons and are four times as likely to be arrested for homicide. The development of the registry, coupled with the Mayor's establishment of the Gun Courts will ensure that gun offenses are treated seriously and prosecuted fully. In 2001, approximately half of all individuals convicted of illegal gun possession served less than one year in jail. Today, with Gun Courts operational in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, 79% to 90% of individuals convicted in illegal gun possession cases serve one year or longer.
The Inventory Bill would require City gun dealers to perform physical inspections of their inventories twice a year, send a sworn affidavit of these inspections to the NYPD and require the reporting of any missing or stolen guns. Currently, local gun dealers are only required to inspect inventories once per year. Often times, without stringent inspection guidelines, corrupt gun dealers may "lose" guns or claim that they have been stolen from their inventories, when they were actually sold illegally. The increase in inventory accountability will allow the NYPD to investigate legitimate gun thefts more quickly and root out rogue gun dealers. Nationally, more than 13,000 guns are reported lost or stolen annually and according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), those guns are a major source for illegal trafficking.
One Handgun Every-Three-Month Limit
The City Council will also introduce legislation that would limit handgun purchases in the City to one every three months - making it more difficult for gun traffickers to purchase guns through straw buyers. If passed, gun dealers would be barred from selling multiple handguns in the same transaction and would be barred from selling a handgun to someone they knew had purchased a gun within the previous three months. According to ATF statistics, multiple firearms purchased through single sales is a large contributor to illegal gun trafficking across the country. Current law regulates the number of handguns that people can possess at any one time and also bans the sales of multiple shotguns and rifles. This legislation would close the loophole around multiple handgun sales.
"Guns remain the leading instrument of death in the majority of murders in New York City," said Police Commissioner Kelly. "Efforts to make it harder for guns to fall into the wrong hands, whether here or out-of-state, are welcome in helping save lives and prevent crime."
"In the fight against illegal guns we've pledged to hold accountable those who manufacture, sell, possess and use guns," said Criminal Justice Coordinator Feinblatt. "Today's groundbreaking legislation accomplishes just that. These innovative and comprehensive measures target both gun criminals and the sources of illegal guns. By zeroing in on both supply and demand we take another major step forward in winning the battle against gun violence."
Mayor Bloomberg is using a comprehensive three-pronged approach of stronger enforcement, new legislation and innovative litigation to combat illegal guns. Last month, the Mayor announced the filing of a lawsuit against 15 rogue dealers selling guns illegally to straw purchasers in direct violation of the federal law. The Mayor has also increased enforcement efforts in New York City with the creation of specialized Gun Courts, which have resulted in longer sentences for gun offenders. In addition, the establishment of a comprehensive "debriefing" protocol by the NYPD for every felony gun defendant is helping the Police Department learn more about the identities of gun traffickers and their selling patterns.
Mayor Bloomberg has also actively opposed federal legislation - including House of Representatives Bills 5005, 5092 and 1384 - that would limit access to gun trace data, prevent law enforcement agencies from sharing and using this critical information, relax gun dealer record-keeping requirements and loosen interstate firearm sales regulations. Recognizing that illegal guns are a national problem requiring national leadership, Mayor Bloomberg, together with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, in April hosted a Mayors' Summit on Illegal Guns that was attended by more than a dozen mayors from across the nation, from Seattle to Dallas to Philadelphia. The nonpartisan group of mayors discussed innovative policing and legal strategies, identified opportunities for greater coordination in combating the flow of illegal guns, and signed a statement of principles to guide their efforts going forward. On Sunday, Mayors Bloomberg and Menino announced the addition of 37 mayors to the coalition.
Stu Loeser/Virginia Lam (212) 788-2958
Maria Alvarado (Council) (212) 788-7117
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