|Contact:||Sunny Mindel/Matthew Higgins (212) 788-2958|
|Michael Regan, FDNY (718) 999-2025|
The bill before me today, Introductory Number 633, sponsored by Speaker Vallone and 37 of his colleagues, in conjunction with my Administration, would amend the Administrative Code of the City of New York, in relation to the use of safety locking devices with weapons.
Specifically, this legislation would expand upon Local Law 21 of 1998 by requiring the purchaser of any weapon to also purchase a safety locking device. More importantly, this legislation would require that all gun owners use safety locking devices when storing their weapons. Currently, Local Law 21 only requires purchasers of pistols and revolvers to purchase a gun lock, and fails to require these gun owners to actually use the gun locking device on a pistol or revolver.
This bill was originally introduced at my request in May of 1998 at the same time I signed Local Law 21 into law. At that time, I stated that Local Law 21 was a step in the right direction, but that more action was needed. In fact, prior to the passage of Local Law 21, my Administration asked the Council to require the use of gun locks on all weapons, but the Council refused. Therefore, because the Council failed to act upon these requests, I introduced the legislation before me today.
After its introduction, the bill was modified in February of this year in order to satisfy State preemption concerns raised by the City Council. In fact, in February 1999 a memorandum from the Law Department was sent to the Council outlining why the bill is not preempted by State law. The bill referenced in the February memo is identical to the bill before me today. However, the bill continued to be delayed for an additional 8 months in the Council's Public Safety Committee.
For this reason, on August 6, 1999, prior to Council passage of the bill, the Charter Revision Commission proposed a Charter amendment on gun locks, which is before the voters on November 2nd. It was only after the Charter Commission proposed its own trigger lock amendment that the Council finally took action on the legislation before me.
While the bill before me and the Charter amendment are similar, the most striking difference is that the penalties in the Council bill are more lenient than in the Charter amendment.
Under the bill, failure to properly store a weapon would be a violation, punishable by up to 10 days in jail or up to $250 in fines for first offenders. Any subsequent offense, or first offense resulting in a substantial risk of physical injury to another person, would result in a misdemeanor, with a possible jail sentence of up to 30 days or up to a $1,000 fine.
The Charter Revision Commission's penalties include 10 days in jail and a $250 fine for a first offense and up to 6 months in jail and/or a $5,000 fine for a second offense, or first offense involving a substantial risk of physical injury to another. A third and any subsequent offense would be punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. The Charter amendment also includes civil penalties of up $5,000 for any offense.
For all of these reasons, I am inclined to reserve judgment on this bill until after the voters decide on the proposed Charter amendments, which I believe are essential to further improving the quality of life in this City. Because of the actions taken by the Charter Revision Commission in putting a gun lock proposal before the voters, this bill has finally come before me for consideration. However, I will wait until after November 2nd to take action on this legislation, because the voters may well adopt an even tougher standard at the polls.
I will now turn to the bill's sponsor, other elected officials and then to anyone else who wishes to be heard for or against this legislation.