Gianaris bill attempts to track out-of-state guns being used in New York crimes

Legislative Gazette file photo

Legislation aimed at disclosing where guns used in crimes were purchased has been introduced in the state Senate.

The bill, S.8303, would require the Department of Criminal Justice Services and State Police to publish quarterly reports on the use of firearms in criminal activity in New York.

Information included in the reports would include the county and state origin of the firearm, the county and state where the firearm was purchased, wherever the buyer was involved in the crime and whether or not that person was licensed. Those reports would begin Oct. 1, 2018.

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-Queens, and is cosponsored by Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida; Jesse Hamilton, D-Brooklyn; and Toby Ann Stavisky, D-Queens.

In a public statement, Sen. Gianaris said the legislation would address the “Iron Pipeline,” where guns are purchased in states with lax regulations and transported across state lines to be used in crimes.

Sen. Michael Gianaris, at podium

“Stopping the ‘Iron Pipeline’ is possible if New York leads the way,” Gianaris said. “Despite having among the toughest gun laws in the country, our state experiences too many gun-related crimes due to firearms originating elsewhere. While the federal government will not take action to combat gun violence, New York should use data to expose states that are part of the problem.”

The legislation has received the support of a number of gun safety organizations, including New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and Giffords, which was founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband. Praising Sen. Gianaris’ legislation, Senior Policy Advisor David Chipman for Giffords called for additional states to take up similar bills.

“For decades, Congress has complied with the gun lobby’s demand for no new federal research into the public health crisis that gun violence has created,” Chipman said. “But leaders in New York are stepping up and defying the NRA and listening to the will of the people. More states should join New York in moving proactive measures like this forward because the sad reality is that too many people fall victim to gunfire every single day.”

Research into gun trafficking is not new to elected officials and lawmakers. According to a 2016 report released by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, roughly 74 percent of all guns recovered by police in New York originated from out of state, including 86 percent of all handguns.

The report also found that 90 percent of guns used to commit a crime between 2010 originated from six states along the I-95 corridor with relatively limited gun regulation — Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

“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,” Schneiderman said at the time of the report’s release. “Even as we work to make our streets safer, the illegal guns most often used in violent crimes continue to pour into our state. It’s time for the federal government – and other states – to take common sense measures and ensure weak gun laws won’t continue to take the lives of New Yorkers.”

The bill is likely to face an uphill battle in the Senate, where Republicans continue hold a slim majority. In February, the chamber blocked a number of firearm regulation bills that were introduced following the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

There was no immediate comment by the Republican Party regarding Gianaris’ bill. As of May 1, the bill has been referred to the Finance Committee for consideration.

There is no Assembly version.