Discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation would be a ‘serious offense’ under NY’s SAFE Act
Senator Daniel Squadron, D-Brooklyn, introduced an amendment that would categorize hate crimes as serious offenses in relation to the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act.
This legislation would prohibit any New Yorker who commits a hate crime from owning a firearm.
Specifically, the bill (S.5569) would amend section 265.00 of the state Penal Law by adding hate crimes to the list of “serious offenses” that can prohibit someone from possessing firearms.
According to Squadron’s office, there has been an “alarming” rise in hate crimes since President Trump’s election. Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that the number of hate crimes reported in New York City since the beginning of 2017 was more than double the number of reported incidents over the same period of last year.
According to the Governor’s Office reported hate crime incidents in New York State have dramatically increased over the last five months. More than 100 alleged hate crimes have been reported in New York City since the beginning of 2017. The number of incidents reported outside of New York City in November and December of 2016, immediately following Trump’s election, also doubled compared to the same period in 2015.
Squadron’s bill amends the SAFE ACT by adding hate crimes to the list of serious offenses that will prohibit gun ownership for those who are convicted.
Under New York state law, a hate crime is committed when a person intentionally commits the act or acts constituting the offense in whole or in substantial part because of a belief or perception regarding the race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation of a person, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct.
Hate crimes will be added to the list of offenses that currently includes things such as “illegally using, carrying or possessing a pistol or other dangerous weapon; making or possessing burglar’s instruments; buying or receiving stolen property; unlawful entry of a building; or aiding escape from prison.
Squadron, in the bill memo, states “hate crime convictions indicate the perpetrator has targeted a victim or community simply for being who they are. Such a history of targeted violence or intimidation suggests they could pose broader dangers to those communities and others.”
According to the Center for American Progress, states such as Minnesota, Oregon and New Jersey already bar individuals convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from buying and possessing guns.
Squadron says New York has a duty to take actions that reject acts of bigotry, hatred, misogyny, homo-phobia, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and discrimination in any form because they violate the nation’s core values. Allowing those who commit and are convicted of hate crimes to possess guns only gives them a fatal tool to spread their hate.
The bill was introduced to the Senate Codes Committee on April 13. There is no Assembly version.