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ALBANY, NY — On March 4, the New York State Assembly passed a new gun safety measure, which would require guns be stored in a locked container or be outfitted with a locking device if children under 16 live in the house, or are visiting the house.
A press release from Speaker Carl Heastie says, “Under current law, safe storage of guns is only required if a person living in the household is federally prohibited from owning a gun, but not if there are children in the house. This legislation would require that, in households with children and individuals prohibited from possessing a gun by federal or state law, all guns are safely stored when not in possession of the gun owner.”
Failure to comply would result in a misdemeanor. The bill would also require officers who issue licenses for guns provide notice about safe storage of firearms to gun owners. Businesses or people who sell guns would also be required to post notification of the law where guns are sold.
“This bill is another important step in preventing gun violence,” Heastie said. “Earlier this year, we passed a package of legislation that addressed some of the root causes of gun violence. I am proud of our continued work with our Senate colleagues to ensure New York has the strongest and safest possible gun laws, and help keep our kids safe in our homes and in our communities.”
Between 2012 and 2014, nearly 1,300 children died and 5,790 were treated for gunshot wounds nationwide each year, according to a 2017 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Of those deaths, 53% were homicides, 38% were suicides and 6% were ruled accidental. The safe-storage legislation is intended to reduce those numbers.
There were, however, critics of the legislation. “As if law-abiding gun owners don’t have enough hoops to jump through in New York, the Assembly Majority found it necessary to once again place more unnecessary laws on legal and law-abiding gun owners,” said Assemblyman Clifford W. Crouch. “Their newest attack will put more restrictions on where and how legal gun owners must store firearms in their own homes, requiring them to have trigger locks or be placed in a gun safe at all times. While I am all for the safe storage of firearms and firearm safety, this law creates problems for [rural residents of the state], who rely on firearms for safety, and experience longer wait times for police or emergency service arrivals and may need to use their firearms for self defense.”