ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled new legislation Wednesday that would ban people convicted of domestic violence crimes from owning firearms.
The new law is the first proposal of his 2018 State of the State address. As he does every year leading up to his address, Gov. Cuomo announces several proposals he will be pushing the state Legislature to pass during the coming legislative session.
While the NY SAFE Act does impose background checks and restrictions preventing convicted criminals from owning firearms, Gov. Cuomo said it does not properly address domestic violence offenders.
Under his proposed bill, anyone convicted of any domestic violence crime, regardless of severity, will be stripped of all firearms — including handguns, rifles and shotguns — and will permanently be barred from purchasing another. And, in addition to issuing an order of protection, judges would require the defendant in a domestic violence crime to surrender firearms and suspend licenses until the case is resolved.
Gov. Cuomo said the legislation is in response to a growing number of gun crimes linked to domestic violence cases nationwide.
“This year will be remembered as the year of reckoning, when both the tragedy of mass shootings and cultural and institutional harassment of women became impossible to ignore,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. “Building on the Women’s Equality Agenda, we are continuing our mission for progressive values and women’s rights with this legislation to target the unquestionable relationship between domestic violence and gun violence.”
Jill L. Parker, executive director of the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County, said she is pleased with the proposal, noting that some of the clients who come through her door fear gun violence in their own lives.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit group seeking an end to gun violence, a woman is five times more likely to be killed if a gun is present during a domestic abuse incident.
“We feel that this piece of legislation is the first step in holding domestic violence offenders accountable regarding the use of firearms,” Ms. Parker said.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than half of the women killed in 2011 were killed by an intimate partner or spouse. Additionally, according to the American Journal of Medicine, women in the United States are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed than women in other first-world countries.
At the federal level, lawmakers have tried to close what’s known as the “boyfriend loophole,” wherein current gun restrictions apply to those who commit violence against a spouse but not a dating partner.
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