New York is awash in illegal firearms, the vast majority of which flow in from out of state, a new report from the attorney general reveals in grim detail.
Law enforcement recovered 52,915 guns used in crimes between 2010 and 2015. Of the handguns collected, nearly 90 percent were purchased outside New York, the report says. The rest were transported in through Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia, states that enjoy significantly more relaxed gun laws than New York.
“The data makes one thing abundantly clear: New York’s strong gun laws are being undermined at every turn by lax laws in other states,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “Even as we work to make our streets safer, the illegal guns most often used in violent crimes continue to pour into our state.”
The goal of the report is to push the federal government to strengthen gun laws across state lines, but the attorney general’s office is facing a familiar uphill battle. In 2013, the Senate voted down Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposed legislation that would, among other things, make gun trafficking a federal crime. That legislation was introduced in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings and included a passel of other restrictions, like expanding background checks for gun buyers and banning assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines. The NRA and its sycophants, whose hackles were already raised by the imagined threat of a national gun ban, voted to kill the entire package.
Last year, Gillibrand reintroduced legislation aimed at prosecuting gun traffickers with the Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking & Crime Prevention Act, which includes many of the same provisions as the 2013 attempt without some of its more controversial baggage. A spokesperson with Gillibrand’s office told the Voice that the legislation, co-sponsored with Illinois senator Mark Kirk, is currently under consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Month after month, year after year, illegal guns tear apart communities across New York and our country and yet there is not a single federal law defining gun trafficking as a crime — enough is enough,” Gillibrand said in a press release at the time.
Another option is to enact even harsher penalties for gun trafficking in New York, which is precisely the goal of the Gun Kingpin bill, introduced earlier this year by State Senator Jeff Klein and Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance Jr. The proposed measure would nail traffickers with more serious felonies, with offenders facing fifteen years to life in prison.
The new report also offers several recommendations on both the state and federal levels, like closing the gaping, indefensible gun show loophole, requiring handgun licenses, and working to find novel ways of tracing the source of guns entering New York.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 25, 2016