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Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg Signs Legislation Increasing Gun Safety

January 18, 2005

Remarks by Mayor Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws

"The next four bills before me all relate to the issue of gun control. Gun control is a vital part of our continuing battle against crime.  This battle has been a cornerstone of this Administration and a cornerstone of our City's rebirth.  Our City cannot thrive and grow if its residents and its visitors do not feel safe.  The historic reductions in crime has saved lives and reinvigorated our City. 

"But the fight against illegal guns will never be over.  Although we have reduced gun violence, we still have farther to go and if we become complacent, we will suffer the consequences. We need to do everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

"Before me today are four pieces of legislation that will make it harder for guns to fall into the hands of criminals.  Usually I ask for comments on each bill individually, but since these bills are really a package, and those of you who would like to comment are likely to have something to say about more than one of these bills, I'm going to go through the bill descriptions for all four bills and then ask for your comments.

"The first of these bills, Introductory number 144-A, is sponsored by Council Members Sanders, Vallone, Yassky, Felder, Fidler, Foster, Gennaro, Gerson, Jackson, Jennings, Liu, Lopez, Nelson, Quinn, Sears, Stewart, Vann, Weprin, Moskowitz, Gentile, Martinez, Recchia, Reed, Katz, Brewer, Clarke, Perkins, Seabrook and the Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum.

"This legislation increases the age at which an individual may apply for a permit to purchase and possess a rifle or shotgun from 18 years of age to 21. Additionally, Intro 144-A requires dealers who sell ammunition to expand the level of information collected from their customers. This information will now have to include the caliber, make, model, manufacturer's name and serial number of the rifle or shotgun the ammunition is purchased for.  All of this information will be made immediately available to state and local law enforcement agencies upon request.  Having information that relates the purchase of ammunition to the weapon for which it is purchased will assist law enforcement officers as they investigate crimes involving firearms or ammunition in New York City.

"The next bill before me is Introductory Number 490-A sponsored by Council Members Vallone, Clarke, Comrie, Fidler, Gerson, Koppell, Liu, Monserrate, Nelson, Recchia, Stewart, Weprin, Yassky, Quinn, Addabbo, Gennaro, Jackson, Martinez, Sanders, Vann, Reed, Foster, Katz, Brewer, Felder, Seabrook, Sears, Perkins and the Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum.

"This legislation will prohibit a gun dealer from selling more than one rifle or shotgun per transaction. Additionally, it will prevent dealers from selling a rifle or shotgun to a person if the person has purchased a weapon within the past 90 days.

"Intro 490-A attempts to strengthen city laws governing gun retailers in order to prevent the diversion of guns to the illegal market place. This bill imposes a reasonable limitation on the purchase of rifles and shotguns in New York City, to minimize the possibility that a person with unlawful intent will acquire multiple weapons.  Although dealers in rifles and shotguns in New York City are licensed and strictly regulated, this bill strengthens those regulations and helps to prevent dealers from unwittingly helping criminals obtain deadly weapons.

"The next bill before me is Intro 469-A sponsored by Speaker Miller, Council Members Yassky, Addabbo, Brewer, Clarke, Comrie, Fidler, Gennaro, Gerson, Gonzalez, James, Koppell, Liu, Martinez, Nelson, Quinn, Reed, Sanders, Stewart, Weprin, Recchia, Vallone, Foster, Katz, Perkins, Sears, Seabrook, Felder and the Public Advocate Ms. Betsy Gotbaum.

"Intro 469-A raises the civil penalty for violating the City's ban on possessing assault weapons from the current penalty of $10,000 to $25,000 for each weapon. Additionally, the legislation codifies existing practices by the NYPD allowing for the Commissioner to require the surrender of all firearms - including legal firearms - by anyone acquiring weapons illegally."

"Prior to the expiration of the Federal ban on Assault Weapons, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (the ATF) maintained a list of assault weapons that was utilized by the NYPD to investigate crimes.  However, now that the Federal Assault Weapon ban has expired, the NYPD will incorporate the pre-existing list of assault weapons into its official rules so that a reliable, current list will be maintained locally.  In order to ensure that the list remains accurate, Intro 469-A requires the Police Commissioner to review the City's list of banned assault weapons at least three times a year and update it as necessary. 

"Make no mistake about it; assault weapons have no place in our city. They are designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amounts of time.  Intro 469-A takes us one step closer to ending gun violence in our City.

"The last bill before me is Introductory Number 365-A sponsored by Council Members Yassky, Moskowitz, Vann, Nelson, Stewart, Brewer, Boyland, Clarke, Comrie, Fidler, Gentile, Koppell, Seabrook, Weprin, Jackson, Recchia, Liu, Reed, Foster, Gerson, Lopez, Felder, Gennaro, Perkins and the Public Advocate, Betsy Gotbaum.

"This bill holds gun manufacturers and dealers liable for injury or death resulting from the criminal use of a gun, if there was any unlawful transfer of the weapon by that manufacturer or dealer, or if there was any unlawful subsequent transfer in the chain of possession of the weapon.  Manufacturers and dealers are not liable under this new law if they have complied with a code of conduct defined in the legislation.  The code of conduct spells out a specific set of responsible business practices which must be adhered to in order to minimize the possibility that their guns will end up in the wrong hands.  

"Among other things, the code of conduct requires that a dealer may not sell weapons at gun shows unless the gun show operator maintains a practice of performing instant background checks on all purchases at the show.  It also requires that dealers may not sell more than one handgun per month to an individual.

"Our administration has numerous initiatives targeting gun violence, including Operation Impact, a data-driven, street level enforcement initiative launched in January 2003.  Operation Impact has been successful in dramatically reducing all categories of crime, particularly crimes involving guns. In 2004, murders and shootings in newly selected Impact zones fell 56% compared to the same period in 2003.  In addition to Operation Impact, the Brooklyn Gun Court,a specialized court part dedicated exclusively to adjudicating felony gun possession cases from arraignment through sentencing, has resulted in a remarkable 88% incarceration rate, up 23% from the prior year's incarceration rates in Brooklyn.  In addition, the Brooklyn Gun Court has resulted in longer sentences for illegal possession, with 87% of incarceration sentences now one year or longer, a 93% increase over the prior year.  The success of the Brooklyn Gun Court led to the opening of two more such courts in the Bronx and in Queens.  Both new courts show promising early results.

"One death attributed to gun violence is one too many. Our existing initiatives and these pieces of legislation are all steps toward eliminating needless gun violence once and for all.

"I would like to thank Commissioner Kelly and our Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt and their staffs for all their efforts on this legislation.  I'd also like to thank the City Council for working collaboratively with the Administration on an issue that is important to both sides of City Hall and to every New Yorker."

Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz

(212) 788-2958