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Democrat lawmakers push plan to reduce gun violence; nearly 100 legislators have signed on

NEW YORK - Two days before the New York State legislature reconvenes for 2013, a coalition of nearly 100 State legislators called for prompt passage of a specific, comprehensive State plan to reduce the firepower available to criminals and stop many preventable acts of gun violence.  The call for broad new legislation comes in the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, CT that left 20 young children and 6 teachers dead, the murders of first responders arriving at the scene of a fire set by a heavily armed killer in Webster, NY, and ongoing gun violence throughout New York State.

The plan’s growing list of supporters, who began coalescing in December, now includes 25 Senators and 70 Assemblymembers, as well as 4 legislators whose terms just ended.  All rank-and-file members of the Senate Democratic Conference have signed on, as have nearly three-quarters of the Assembly Majority, which has supported stronger gun laws in prior legislative sessions, including some aspects of the package proposed today.  The coalition was initiated by Democrat Assemblymembers Michelle Schimel of Nassau County and Brian Kavanagh of Manhattan, and Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn, the three Co-Chairs of State Legislators Against Illegal Guns.

The lawmakers laid out the plan in a letter sent to the leaders of the five legislative conferences.  Each of the recipients—Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb; and Senate Republican Leader Dean G. Skelos, Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey D. Klein, and Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins—has expressed a need for a State response to recent gun violence, although the approach they have proposed to take has varied substantially.  Governor Andrew Cuomo has also called for strong legislation.

The plan includes eight measures:

  • Requiring universal background checks, for criminality and mental health issues, on all gun sales
  • Strengthening the State’s assault weapons ban, making it similar to the existing ban in New York City
  • Banning high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds
  • Requiring semi-automatic pistols to be equipped with microstamping, to help solve gun crime
  • Requiring gun licenses to be renewed every 5 years
  • Improving gun dealer regulations, particularly to reduce gun losses and thefts
  • Regulating ammunition sales, ensuring that those not permitted to buy a weapon can’t buy ammunition
  • Limiting personal handgun purchases to no more than one per month, to help reduce gun trafficking