Signs Additional Measure Allowing Law Enforcement Responding to a Call More Access to Information on a Firearm License Application
Governor Cuomo: "While Washington stands idly by and allows a gun violence epidemic to tear our nation apart at the seams, causing more and more families to grieve and children to grow up without their parents, New York is leading the way and enacting smart, common sense gun safety laws to help prevent these needless tragedies."
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S.2438/A.1213) closing a loophole to give law enforcement access to out-of-state records to help prevent the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining a firearm license in New York. Under current law, individuals can apply for a firearm license in the county in which they reside, regardless of the location of the individual's permanent residence. Before a firearm license is issued, individuals must submit to a background check, but current rules often prevent access to out-of-state records pertaining to people who are dangerously mentally ill, and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System only flags people who have been involuntarily committed.As a result, the current system does not prevent dangerously mentally ill people who have not been involuntarily committed from applying for a firearm license in New York - this new law closes that loophole. Additionally the Governor signed a measure allowing local and state law enforcement officers more access to an individual's information on a firearm license application (S.6160/A.7739).
This legislation builds on the strongest gun laws in the nation, including the SAFE Act, the Red Flag law - which went into effect August 24 and prevents individuals who show signs of being a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a firearm - and legislation Governor Cuomo signed this year extending the background check waiting period and banning bump stocks.
"While Washington stands idly by and allows a gun violence epidemic to tear our nation apart at the seams, causing more and more families to grieve and children to grow up without their parents, New York is leading the way and enacting smart, common sense gun safety laws to help prevent these needless tragedies," Governor Cuomo said. "These measures continue to build on our nation-leading gun laws by helping keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and providing law enforcement with the tools and knowledge they need to keep our communities safe from situations that may involve a deadly firearm."
"Day after day, gun violence continues to bring devastation to communities across America. That's why here in New York, we will not stop working to implement common-sense gun safety reforms," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This legislation will assist our law enforcement professionals as they work to keep New Yorkers safe. By taking proactive steps to identify those who pose a danger and prevent them from gaining access to firearms, we are making progress in our efforts to save lives."
Access to Home State Records (S.2438/A.1213)
Individuals can apply for a firearm license in the county in which they reside, regardless of the location of the individual's permanent residence. Before a firearm license is issued, individuals must submit to a background check, but current rules often prevent access and consideration of out-of-state records pertaining to people who are dangerously mentally ill, and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, only flags people who have been involuntarily committed.Therefore, when dangerously mentally ill people who have not been involuntarily committed apply for a firearm license in New York, there is little chance under current law for a complete and thorough background check. This new law closes that loophole by allowing law enforcement to review out-of-state records of dangerously mentally ill people before granting a firearm license.
Senator Anna M. Kaplan said, "Our nation is plagued by an epidemic of gun violence that demands our full attention and action, and I'm proud that New York continues to lead the way as a beacon of progress for other states. This bill closes a dangerous loophole in our gun license background check process, ensuring that part-time New York residents buying a gun receive the same thorough review as full-time residents. I thank Governor Cuomo for making New York a leader for common-sense gun safety reforms, and I applaud him for signing this measure into law."
Assembly Member Pamela Hunter said, "Gun violence is on the rise across the nation, but in New York we are enacting common sense reforms to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals in the first place. This legislation closes a dangerous loophole in the current law that will help to ensure all individuals applying for a firearm license are properly evaluated. I thank Governor Cuomo and my partners in the Legislature for continuing to lead the nation on this critical issue."
Access to Information on Firearm License Applications (S.6160/A.7739)
Under current law, handgun license holders and applicants are able to request that their application information be exempt from public disclosure, which creates a loophole denying law enforcement real-time information that they would otherwise have when responding to a call. Not knowing whether an individual has a gun or if a gun is likely on the premises puts law enforcement officers in potential danger, particularly in domestic violence incidents where they must enter a home without any knowledge of whether a gun is present.
This new law grants law enforcement officers access to this critical information, allowing them to take extra precautions to provide for their safety and the safety of others.
Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, "The SAFE Act allows handgun holders and applicants to request that their application information be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law, but fails to provide local law enforcement access to those records. The purpose of this bill is to close that loophole so that when a local officer responds to a situation, particularly in cases of domestic violence, they know whether or not they are entering a home where a firearm is present. Easy access to this information will allow local police to take the necessary precautions to protect both themselves and others when responding to an emergency. I thank Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for signing this bill into law - it is imperative that we provide our brave law enforcement officers with the necessary information to stay safe and better serve our communities."
Assembly Member Amy Paulin said, "When police officers respond to calls, they can best keep themselves and others safe if they know what they're walking into, particularly whether or not there's a gun in the home. There are some gaps in time when local law enforcement might not be able to get access to this information, particularly at night and weekends when most calls about domestic violence incidents come in. This law will eliminate those gaps and allow law enforcement to take extra precautions to provide for their safety and the safety of others in the home."
Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York has passed the strongest gun control laws in the nation, including the SAFE Act in 2013 which keeps guns out of the hands of convicted felons and individuals with a mental illness who are deemed a danger to themselves or others, ensures private gun sales are subject to a background check, bans high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, and toughens criminal penalties for illegal gun use.
Since the passage of the SAFE Act, 101,517 reports from mental health professionals have been received by state officials intended to keep weapons away from people with mental illnesses that are likely to "engage in conduct that will cause serious harm to self or others." These reports - which represent nearly 98,582 people with a potential dangerous mental disposition - are used to notify appropriate local licensing officials who suspend or revoke weapon licenses and prompt local law enforcement officials to remove weapons that are not surrendered.
New York State passed the laws six years ago and they have worked. No legal gun owners' rights have been violated but unnecessary, dangerous weapons are off the streets and dangerously mentally ill people cannot buy guns.
The Governor also recently enacted the Red Flag bill to prevent individuals who pose a risk to themselves or others from purchasing a firearm. New York became the first state in the nation to empower its teachers and school administrators to help prevent school shootings through court intervention. This law also targets the well-known link between domestic abuse and deadly gun violence.
The Governor continued to build on New York's nation-leading gun laws this year with comprehensive legislation to: extend the background check waiting period; ban bump stocks; ban undetectable guns; expand firearm safe storage laws; prevent school districts from arming teachers; and establish statewide regulations for gun buyback programs.