By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
As Congress prepares to debate President Barack Obama’s gun control proposals, state lawmakers from Brooklyn are defending their “yes” votes on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s tough new anti-gun measures.
Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Coney Island) said he was compelled to support the governor’s effort not just because of the after the tragedies in Newtown and in upstate New York, but because of the gun violence New Yorkers face every day. The latter incident involved an ex-con who deliberately set a house on fire and killed two firefighters when they arrived at the scene to put out the fire.
“The massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn. and first responders in Webster, New York were horrific tragedies. But sadly we see terrible gun violence every day in cities and neighborhoods across New York,” Brook-Krasny said.
“We need aggressive legislation to put a stop to the madness,” he said, adding that the bill “takes a comprehensive look at the issue of gun violence and provides real solutions by strengthening gun-control measures and safety, increasing criminal penalties for the illegal use of guns and ensuring that those who may be a danger to themselves or others due to a mental illness do not have access to firearms.”
The legislation would strengthen New York’s existing assault weapons ban to prohibit weapons that include one or more of the features that increase the lethal threat of a semi-automatic weapon, Brook-Krasny said. In addition, there would be a grandfather clause for owners of legal semi-automatic weapons provided they register them with the state police, recertify the registration every 5 years and undergo a background check, he said.
Under the new law, all high-capacity ammunition clips with the capacity to hold more than 10 rounds are banned. No clips with the capacity to hold more than 7 rounds can be sold.
The law also requires all people purchasing ammunition to undergo a state background check and present state-issued photo identification.
“Plain and simple: death tolls rise when semi-automatic assault weapons and large amounts of ammunition are used in shootings,” Brook-Krasny said.
On the other side of the political aisle, state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn), who is a retired police officer, surprised many political observers when he voted in favor of the governor’s proposed legislation.
Calling the bill “sensible legislation,” Golden said the new law “will go a long way to making our streets, our schools, and communities safer for us all.”
Golden said that throughout negotiations in Albany over the bill, “we made sure not only to create additional statewide restrictions to the current assault weapons ban, but also to increase penalties.”
The state has taken a major step towards taking illegal guns off the streets, Golden said.
He also touted a provision in the new law that he had pushed for – outlawing so-called “community guns,” weapons that one person plants in a public place, such as a park, that is then picked up and used by a second person.
“I believe that the new crime created for the use of a community gun, legislation I championed, so that all associated with the gun are penalized, will be key to better safety,” Golden said.
The strict new law addresses the need to keep hands out of the hands of deranged people, according to Golden.
“We have also voted for Kendra's Law which allows courts to order treatment of a person who has not sought treatment for serious mental illness that poses a threat to the public or to self. We cannot let gun ownership fall into the hands of folks either off our radar screen or who are mentally unstable,” Golden said.
While lawmakers are defending their votes, there are indications that the public is behind them. The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that that a Siena College poll found that 71 percent of New Yorkers support the tough new gun control law.