Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the first proposal of the 2018 State of the State: remove all firearms from those who commit domestic violence crimes. Given the inextricable link between domestic violence and lethal gun violence, this legislation will require all domestic violence crime convictions, including misdemeanors, to result in the immediate removal of all fire arms and will add measures to keep firearms out of the hands of those who commit domestic violence with the goal of preventing additional tragedies.
“This year will be remembered as the year of reckoning, when both the tragedy of mass shootings and cultural and institutional harassment of women became impossible to ignore,” Governor Cuomo said. “Building on the Women’s Equality Agenda, we are continuing our mission for progressive values and women’s rights with this legislation to target the unquestionable relationship between domestic violence and gun violence.”
Under Governor Cuomo, New York has passed the strongest gun control laws in the nation. However, New York does not have sufficient laws in place that automatically mandate removing all types of firearms from individuals involved in domestic violence—an issue we know is closely tied to gun violence and gun violence deaths. In nine of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in United States history, including Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, the shooter had an existing record of committing violence against women, threatening violence against women, or harassing or disparaging women. In addition, when an abusive partner is permitted to access firearms, the risk that the other partner will be killed increases fivefold. In 2016, firearms were used in 25 domestic homicides in New York.
This proposal builds on legislation previously advanced by Assembly member Amy Paulin, Senator Diane Savino and other members of the legislature.
All Domestic Violence Convictions Result in the Loss of Firearms
New York law prohibits the possession of firearms for individuals convicted of felony or “serious” offenses. However, this excludes certain misdemeanor offenses involving domestic violence, such as assault and battery crimes or strangulation. To ensure that all domestic violence offenders are held to the same standard, Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to include all domestic violence misdemeanors on the list of prohibited offenses.
Rifles and Shotguns Are Also Required to be Surrendered to Law Enforcement
Currently, New York State requires surrender of hand guns for either (1) an order of protection issued by a judge or (2) a firearm license suspension/revocation due to a felony or “serious” offense conviction or a mental health disqualification by a health professional. However, this surrender does not always apply to long guns, such as rifles and shotguns. To correct this loophole, Governor Cuomo will be proposing legislation to apply the same surrender procedures to long guns.
For an Order of Protection, Judges Must Order a Defendant to Surrender Any Type of Firearm
Currently, judges issue orders of protection in domestic violence cases after an individual is arrested, but before they are convicted. These orders result in the suspension of firearm licenses. However, these orders are issued at the judges’ discretion and may not be occur in every domestic violence case. To ensure consistency, the State proposes legislation requiring that all judges mandate the surrender of all firearms – hand guns and long guns – and suspend any firearm license until the case is resolved.