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Curran: Public Safety Victory Outweighs Limitations in New Gun Law

NYS Assemblyman Brian Curran reflects on the passage of the NY SAFE Act.

New York became the first state Tuesday to pass comprehensive gun control laws in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 (NY SAFE Act), passed quickly in the Senate and Assembly, where it received a 104-43 vote, and was then signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

After casting his vote in favor of the stricter gun measures, Assemblyman Brian Curran (Lynbrook, 21st AD) released the following statement:

"Over the past 30 days, I have been speaking with many constituents, parents and grandparents about their demand for legislation which keeps guns out of the hands of mentally-ill individuals, reduces the number of violent crimes with illegal hand guns and provides a safer environment for our children. This legislation accomplishes those three goals.

In only a few months, we have seen brutal acts of violence perpetrated upon innocent children, first responders and our communities.  The violent culture of our society is reaching unacceptable heights.  We, as lawmakers, are required by virtue of our office and our own conscience to get those with mental illnesses the care they need and provide the oversight necessary to make sure that tragedy does not befall our nation again, as it did Newtown, Conn. and upstate in Webster. 

The NY SAFE Act expands Kendra’s Law, which grants judges the authority to require people who meet certain mental wellness criteria to regularly undergo psychiatric treatment as a condition to live within the community, and provides a mechanism to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill.

As horrific as an attack perpetrated on our children ever could be, the idea that our first responders could be targets for deranged criminals is harrowing. Those who are responsible for protecting and rescuing our children and families from crisis situations need to be protected. The NY SAFE Act provides stronger penalties for criminals who purposefully attack our first responders.

Additionally, the NY SAFE Act significantly increases criminal penalties for those individuals who possess illegal firearms. This law also closes several loopholes including the “straw-man purchase” that allows illegal guns to be transferred.

Since Newtown, parents within my district have been consumed with making sure our schools are safe. Under the NY SAFE Act, school districts will now be receiving an extra 10 percent of the state’s portion of building aid to make schools safer. This aid may be used to install metal detectors, hardened doors, security cameras and security systems. This smart solution provides immediate relief to our schools in providing a safe learning environment.

This law sought to expand the already existing New York State Weapons Ban of 2000, focusing primarily on attachments to firearms, including magazine capacity restrictions. I have always been a staunch advocate of Second Amendment Rights previously voting against microstamping in 2011 and 2012. However, both federal and state courts have consistently ruled that the Second Amendment is not an absolute right. Upon review, I found that this bill, in terms of assault rifle gun control, places reasonable limitations in our Second Amendment rights but at the same time provided us with additional protections in public security and safety of our children will be augmented.

By no means are all aspects of this bill the absolute panacea to violent crime in New York State.  The Assembly Minority Conference was successful in removing the original sections of this bill, which included: firearm confiscation; confiscation of ten-round clips; statewide registration of firearms; permit information which is obtainable by freedom of information requests; firearm purchase limits and microstamping.  We also held the line on tougher criminal penalties on crimes committed with illegal weapons and an extension of Kendra’s Law, which keeps a close eye on those with a history of mental illness who could become violent in nature.

With the passage of the NY Safe Act, I feel it is very important to point out that there were many factors that contributed to the tragic events of Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo. and Portland, Ore..  We, as a country and as a state, should heed these tragedies as warning signs of the violence we have allowed to consume our culture. Our children are being bombarded on a daily basis with violent images to a point they are numb to the realistic effects of violent acts. In addition to taking responsible action, we as a society must also start to acknowledge and reduce the unacceptable level of violence and violent images that pervades our present day culture.  

I am the father of three children, and their safety is at the forefront of my thoughts on this issue. We took a leap in regard to gun control today; but that leap will make tomorrow safer for our children and our communities."

What are your thoughts on the new gun control laws? Tell us in the comments section below.

Alison Gilbert January 18, 2013 at 03:34 PM
Dear Assemblyman Curran, I am delighted that you voted in favor of gun control. There is one point that I often see missing in arguments pro and con this issue. The second amendment to the US Constitution allowed for the bearing of arms under specific historical and sociological conditions. Just as slavery had a time in our country's history, that time ran out. Similarly, assault weapons are for war, for militia purposes and arming for battle. It is the responsibility of the government to provide for that, not private citizens, unless they wish to overturn the existing government or cause acts of serious violence such as what occurred at the Sandy Hook School. An interpretation and adjustment to the second amendment are crucial. We are not at civil war nor do I see that violence of that magnitude would accomplish anything at this point in history. Common sense must prevail. No one is being asked to give up their right to bear arms. We are simply being asked to be responsible. mature adults in deciding what kind of arms be available to individuals and that those individuals will be responsible with them as best as we can determine. Sincerely, Alison Gilbert

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