Tag Archives: gun laws

Poll: Cuomo loses support following gun bill

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s rush to pass tougher gun legislation in the state may have won him points with some voters, but support for him, especially from the GOP, has dropped, according to a recently released Quinnipiac University poll.

Last month Cuomo’s approval rating decreased from an all-time high of 74-13 percent last month to 59-28 percent.

Among Republicans, it went from 68-12 percent in December to 44-43 percent in Quinnipiac’s January survey.

Though Cuomo’s Democratic support didn’t take as big of a hit, it was still down from last month, dropping to 74 – 14 percent from 82 – 9 percent.

When specifically asked about the gun control legislation, 34 percent of all voters and 59 percent of Republicans thought that it went “too far” in restricting firearm owners’ rights.

Despite these drops, Cuomo is still popular among the majority of voters, and likely hasn’t lost a lot of his political power in Albany.

“With approval ratings that consistently topped 70 percent, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had the political capital to spend when he set out to pass the toughest gun control laws in the nation,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “It is possible that the gun law cost him some of that political capital, but a 2-1 job approval rating still makes him the envy of most governors.”



Op-Ed: Essential steps in the fight against gun violence

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Peralta new


As the sponsor of 14 gun bills, I couldn’t be happier to see long overdue action fi nally taken on common-sense measures to protect New Yorkers from gun violence.

From revoking the gun permits and confi scating the fi rearms of domestic abusers and the mentally ill, to requiring background checks and law enforcement oversight for private gun sales and ammunition purchases, to requiring periodic statewide recertifi cation of gun licenses, a good deal of the legislation I have sponsored and fought for is in this package.

After what we saw happen in Newtown, Connecticut, and in Rochester, strengthening New York’s assault weapons ban became an urgent and pressing priority. And we are adopting perhaps the toughest assault weapons ban in the country.

I applaud the governor for his perseverance and commitment. Above all, I want to thank him for his leadership. Making it harder for criminals to get guns, and keeping fi rearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, are essential steps in the fight against gun violence.

We also need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail by making use of available technology.

That’s why we need to require microstamping, a simple, inexpensive technology that stamps a code—invisible to the naked eye—on the shell casings ejected when a gun is fired.

The microstamps on recovered shell casings give law enforcement the ability to identify a gun used in a crime and determine where and when it was purchased and who bought it.

Not surprisingly, my bill requiring that handguns made or sold in New York be equipped with microstamping technology has the support of police and prosecutors throughout the state.

And there’s absolutely no logical, coherent reason for not requiring microstamping in New York—or at least not one that has been articulated yet.

We’re told that requiring microstamping would put our state’s gun manufacturers out of business. Yet one of the reasons we needed to toughen New York’s assault weapons ban is because many high-powered rifl es now in production are exempt from the current ban.

Why? Because manufacturers altered their products to circumvent the law.

So ignoring the law is profi table, but complying with a microstamping requirement would be bad for business?

That’s a business model that has no business in New York.

In addition to making it harder for criminals to get guns, we need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail. Longer jail sentences won’t make a difference if we’re not catching the people who need to be locked up.

And please: Let’s not waste any more time on the nonsense that a microscopic code on a shell casing constitutes an assault on the Second Amendment rights of sportsmen and law-abiding gun owners.

New Yorkers deserve better than that. Especially those waiting on justice for a loved one lost to gun violence.

Senator Jose Peralta serves on the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. He represents the communities of Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona, Jackson Heights and Astoria.



President calls for stronger gun laws following recent mass shootings

| tcullen@queenscourier.com


The day after New York passed some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, President Barack Obama signed a package of 23 executive orders that set parameters to reduce gun violence in the wake of several devastating shootings last year.

Seeking the recommendations of Vice President Joe Biden, the president put forth a push for background checks to prevent criminals from accessing firearms, school support for resource officers to work on emergency preparedness and guides for mental health workers with spotting and reporting threats of violence.

“[I] will sit at that desk,” he said, “and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.”

Obama announced the plan 33 days after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown. In attendance were children from across the country who wrote the president asking for stronger gun laws.

The president also suggested banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun clips, more than assault weapons, have been associated with mass shootings over the last few years.

Unlike the new New York law, which limits a magazine round to seven bullets, the executive directive suggests capping clips at 10 rounds – going back to the law under a 1994 to 2004 assault weapons ban.

Despite allegations that the presidents plans would go against the Second Amendment, Obama said these orders were targeted at illegal gun ownership and the violence it can cause.

“I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,” he said. “I believe most of them agree that if America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown.  That’s what these reforms are designed to do.  They’re common-sense measures.  They have the support of the majority of the American people.”

It’s now up to Congress, Obama said, to require universal background checks and enforce a magazine limit that will keep the country safer. But to make Congress act and approve these limits, the American people have to speak, especially in districts with a strong pro-gun lobby.

“We’re going to need voices in those areas, in those congressional districts, where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and to say this is important.  It can’t just be the usual suspects.  We have to examine ourselves and our hearts, and ask ourselves what is important.”





NY passes toughest gun laws in country

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's flickr

Less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to make New York the leader in gun safety, the State Legislature voted in favor of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement, or NY SAFE Act, that would effectively keep weapons away from the mentally ill and crack down on illegal guns.

The State Senate voted 43-18 in favor of a broad gun package around 11 p.m. on Monday, January 14; the Assembly voted 104-43 the following day, after hours of debate, to make the bill official.

Many opponents in the Assembly argued the bill was hastily thrown together in order for the state to be an example for the country. As a result, opponents said, registered gun owners would suffer.

Cuomo ratified the bill at the Capitol shortly after the Assembly’s approval:

“This was an extraordinary accomplishment by the legislature of this state,” Cuomo said before signing the bill. “This is a gun control bill if you will that actually exercises common sense.”

Cuomo said the limitations and amendments in the bill would not harm legal owners.

Limiting gun magazines to seven bullets was necessary, Cuomo said, “because the high capacity of magazines that give you the capacity to kill a large number of human beings in a very short time is not sensible for a civil society.” The seven-bullet cap, he added, would be enough for hunters and target shooters, while being too little for a gunman to do harm before police can respond.

People who are deemed unsafe to own a weapon by mental health professionals will have their licenses revoked or suspended under the bill. It also extends Kendra’s Law through 2017 to provide additional out-patient care for the mentally ill.

Assault weapons will now be banned under a “one-feature” test that will examine if a weapon has a detachable magazine that is associated with military weapons. The state formerly had a “two-feature” test that also factored in a gun that was semi-automatic.

Gun owners with weapons that will fall under this ban have one year to register the weapon with State Police from the bill’s effective date.

Queens senators immediately spoke to the success of the bill passing, promising that it would help make both the state and the borough safer against gun violence.

“As the first state in the nation to act on the need for more sensible gun laws following the horrific shootings in Webster, New York and Newtown, Connecticut,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “New York is saying “enough” and establishing itself as a leader in the fight against the brutal gun culture plaguing our nation. An early advocate for more sensible gun laws, I am proud one of my proposals is included in the NY Safe Act, whose passage sets the bar for the rest of the country to save the lives of innocent people.”

Senator Jose Peralta said the passage was the first step in curbing gun violence and aiding police to fight crime. The next step, he said, was to push for micro stamping on weapons, which would help crime fighters track guns.

“We also need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail by making use of available technology,” he said. “That’s why we need to enact microstamping legislation, which has the support of police and prosecutors throughout the state.”

Senator Malcolm Smith, who has pushed for tougher gun laws in wake of the violence last summer, said the bill was a bipartisan success as gun violence affects all New Yorkers, regardless of party or location.

“Gun violence is a problem that affects all of us, urban and rural, Republican and Democrat,” he said. “That’s why we worked so hard on a bipartisan basis to address this critical problem.”

Smith dedicated the bill’s passage to mothers and families in southeast Queens who have lost their sons to gun violence.

“I hope today’s vote provides some level of comfort to the grieving mothers – Donna Hood, Shanee Johnson, and the families of Lloyd Morgan, Kenneth Archbold all of whom lost a love one due to the use of illegal guns.”




At Queens shooting range, assault weapons not a concern

| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Terence M. Cullen

When the Woodhaven Rifle and Pistol Range opened 40 years ago, the scope of weapons patrons used was varied.

But for the past 20 years, because of the city’s and state’s ban on assault weapons, owner Don Spallone says high-powered guns are not a concern in the borough — unlike in other parts of the country.

“We’ve had the assault weapons ban since 1993,” said Spallone. “So we don’t really have that situation here.”

Shooting ranges garnered national attention after news broke that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was taken to a Connecticut range by his mother, where the two would practice.

While the weapons used at the Woodhaven range — one of three in Queens — might vary, it is impossible to use an assault weapon at a range in the city.

Spallone said all sorts of gun owners come through his doors. Many, he said, start out seeking protection but later develop an interest as shooting as a sport.

On any given day, Spallone says patrons can include doctors, teachers and police officers who come in to either practice or test their weapons.

On concerns of continued gun violence in the city, Spallone said comparing the operations of a shooting range to illegal crimes would be like putting a pharmacist against a drug dealer. As a licensed firearms salesman, Spallone said he could not speak for why people might opt to illegally purchase a gun.

“I don’t know anything about that because I deal at the legitimate level,” he said.

But while the range is frequented by what Spallone calls a “United Nations,” restrictions against handgun licenses in the city are among the strictest in the country. It normally takes an applicant six months from being fingerprinted to getting approved for a pistol permit. During that time, the potential gun owner must go through a series of safety classes, usually offered at ranges.


Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Wednesday: Partly cloudy. High of 48. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph. Wednesday Night: Clear. Low of 36. Winds from the West at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Indians in the Caribbean

A photographic exhibition of arts, culture and nation building (1900-1950) at the Rajkumari Cultural Center in Richmond Hill, Indians in the Caribbean shows the life of arts and culture, scholarship and commerce, politics and civics in countries like Guyana, Suriname and Caribbean Islands like Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Rockaway beaches to open Memorial Day weekend: officials
Residents in the Sandy-ravaged Rockaways packed into a community board meeting Tuesday night to discuss the future of their wrecked boardwalk. Read more: NBC New York

Park advocates slam U.S. Tennis Association expansion plan

Park advocates aren’t showing much love to a plan for a $500 million expansion of a premiere tennis center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Read more: New York Daily News

Cuomo to press for wider curbs on gun access

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, pushing New York to become the first state to enact major new gun laws in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Conn., plans on Wednesday to propose one of the country’s most restrictive bans on assault weapons. Read more: New York Times 

Quinn brushes off report that Bloomberg is eyeing other mayoral candidates

For some time now, it was unquestioned that New York City Council Speaker and mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn would have the backing of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But that’s not a sure thing, according to a report. Read more: CBS New York 

More anti-Muslim ads go up in NYC subways

The group that equated Muslim radicals with savages in advertisements last year has put up another set of provocative ads in dozens of New York City subway stations. Read more: Wall Street Journal 

Brooklyn Nets player questioned in Philly sex assault claim

Philadelphia police are investigating reports of a sexual assault that may have involved a Brooklyn Nets team member. Read more: NY1 

2012 was hottest year on record in U.S., climate agency says

The year 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, beating the previous record by a full degree in temperature, a government climate agency said on Tuesday. Read more: Reuters

Op-Ed: Sensible gun laws would make our streets safer

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


Recent horrific acts of gun violence should lead us all to say “enough is enough.” It is long past time to improve our gun laws and make our streets safer. Almost every day, we hear about another senseless attack in New York City, where the number of shootings over the last year has increased by 12 percent, as well as mass murders resulting from gun violence across the country, highlighted by the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and in Milwaukee.

While New York currently has some effective gun laws, more can be done to strengthen our laws and prevent further tragedies. That is why I introduced a package of sensible gun bills which, combined with previously introduced legislation by my colleagues, would make New York the nation’s toughest on guns, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

One of the largest loopholes in our gun laws is their inability to sufficiently address firearm sales on the illegal secondary market, which is where guns that had been previously purchased legally are re-sold, unregulated and off the books. Transactions taking place on the secondary market do not follow the legal standards and requirements mandated for purchase from licensed dealers. Data from the year 2000 shows that 20 percent of all retail handguns recovered from crimes were purchased in a multi-firearm sale. A key component in my proposals would limit gun purchases to one per month, which would help prevent gun traffickers from making bulk purchases and reselling them to people who should not have them.

Another loophole in current gun laws is the ability to purchase a firearm on the secondary market without undergoing a background check. Firearms sold privately between individuals are not regulated and therefore do not require a background check, accounting for up to 40 percent of all gun sales nationwide. It is easy to imagine a scenario where someone who knows he or she would fail a background check getting a friend to make a legal purchase only to turn around and sell the gun to him or her without scrutiny. Another one of my bills would limit the possibility of such illegal sales by requiring private firearm sales to be conducted through a licensed firearm dealer so that a background check on the prospective buyer is conducted.

My sensible gun proposals would close other loopholes relating to the ability to purchase a gun, including establishing a 10-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm, requiring all prospective gun owners to obtain a firearm safety certificate and establishing a 10-year record retention policy for all gun and ammunition sales. Bills requiring the microstamping of ammunition for all handguns, introduced by Senator Jose Peralta, and banning assault weapons, introduced by Senator Daniel Squadron, would also better ensure our public safety and help solve crimes.

My package of bills would not only help decrease the number of gun violence attacks in New York by preventing guns from falling into the wrong hands but would also set an example for states across the country to establish stronger, more responsible regulations. These sensible measures have received a wide range of support not only among state legislators but also from the Brady Campaign, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, law enforcement officials and labor groups. The recent nationwide rash of gun violence highlights the need for stricter gun laws as too many weapons are falling into the wrong hands and causing unnecessary pain and suffering to innocent individuals and their families. I look forward to seeing this coalition of support grow as we continue to push for the passage of these important measures.

Bill would toughen punishment for illegal guns

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

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.


Politics Aside: Are NYC’s gun laws unconstitutional?

| RHornak@queenscourier.com

After years of complaints by all but the most ardent anti-gun activists, New York City’s insanely strict gun laws are finally being exposed for the unconstitutional mess they are after two separate incidents in December in which tourists, with all the proper permits from their home states, were arrested for possessing firearms.

In the first case, a man visiting from California was boarding a plane at LaGuardia and traveling with a legally-licensed gun that was being transported according to federal aviation law. When he declared the gun that was in his checked baggage, he was arrested for illegally carrying a firearm in NYC.

A week later, a woman visiting from Tennessee, with a legal carry permit from her home state, was arrested while visiting the 9/11 memorial. Upon seeing a sign that said “no guns allowed” she approached a police officer to inquire where she could check the .32 caliber pistol she carried in her purse.

Both of them are facing the possibility of serious jail time, stiff fines and huge legal bills, even while making every effort to comply with the law as understood. This is so clearly an egregious application of our overly restrictive gun laws that even Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver has called for leniency and a review of NY’s gun laws to make sure they make sense. When NY’s biggest industry is tourism, we can’t jeopardize our standing as one of the nation’s top attractions.

Putting aside the constitutional issues for a moment, we should have reciprocity with the other 49 states for visiting gun owners. We have reciprocity in dozens of other areas that are not even rights, but privileges. In NY, we recognize drivers’ licenses from any state, marriage contracts (including same- sex marriages), and all sort of other arrangements. Imagine if we arrested people driving through the state for not getting a license here, or if we refused to allow a spouse to visit their loved one in the hospital because we refused to recognize a marriage contract from another state.

That is the equivalent of what we do in NY. In fact, NYC’s laws are so much more restrictive than those even at the state level, that a hunter living on Long Island could be arrested while driving upstate with his rifles to go hunting.

We need to remember that the right to own a gun is protected by the constitution. The idea that every visitor should understand NY’s byzantine and oppressive gun laws is ludicrous. We should respect those that want to exercise their second amendment rights while making every effort to comply with basic, common sense gun laws. That includes for NY citizens as well, but that is another issue.

Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant, blogger, and an active member of the Queens Republican Party.