Bill would toughen punishment for illegal guns

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The day before a man shot and killed a former co-worker near the Empire State Building, State Senator Malcolm Smith and Assemblymember William Scarborough introduced a bill that would increase the punishment for illegal gun possession.

The legislation would change the penalty from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony, which has a sentence of at least five years in prison.

“We need a comprehensive approach through new legislation as well as through new gun detection technology,” said Scarborough. “This bill underscores the need for stricter gun laws in this city and state, especially because of all of the gun violence plaguing this city.”

Police said that Jeffrey Johnson bought the .45 caliber handgun that he used to kill Steven Ercolino August 24 legally in Florida in 1991, but illegally brought it to New York.

New York City does not honor gun permits from other states.

“Whether or not the shooting today involved an illegal gun, the fact remains that guns are in people’s hands and they are using them. We need to send a clear message in this state and to the people of New York City, that if you have a gun in your possession and you shouldn’t have it, you are going away,” said Smith.

At a recent gun buyback event in Jamaica, co-sponsored by Smith, 509 guns were surrendered.