Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed State Senator Alessandra Biaggi’s bill into law on Tuesday (Sept. 3) granting local law enforcement access to records of applications for licenses of firearms—closing a loophole pointed out by the Progressive Women of Pelham and Village of Pelham Trustees.
The legislation, described as "the Pelham bill," was authored by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assembly Member Amy Paulin.
Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, "The SAFE Act allows handgun holders and applicants to request that their application information be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law, but fails to provide local law enforcement access to those records. The purpose of this bill is to close that loophole so that when a local officer responds to a situation, particularly in cases of domestic violence, they know whether or not they are entering a home where a firearm is present. Easy access to this information will allow local police to take the necessary precautions to protect both themselves and others when responding to an emergency. I thank Governor Andrew M. Cuomo for signing this bill into law - it is imperative that we provide our brave law enforcement officers with the necessary information to stay safe and better serve our communities."
Assembly Member Amy Paulin said, "When police officers respond to calls, they can best keep themselves and others safe if they know what they're walking into, particularly whether or not there's a gun in the home. There are some gaps in time when local law enforcement might not be able to get access to this information, particularly at night and weekends when most calls about domestic violence incidents come in. This law will eliminate those gaps and allow law enforcement to take extra precautions to provide for their safety and the safety of others in the home."
Representatives of the Progressive Women of Pelham (PWP) went before the Pelham Village Board of Trustees seeking local action on gun control in April of 2018. From those discussions came efforts resulting in the legislation signed by Gov. Cuomo.
Pelham Village Deputy Mayor Adam Kagan said of the new legislation signed by the governor: "This change in the SAFE Act came about as a result of PWP asking the Village Board to take some local action on gun control issues. After further investigation, we discovered handgun registration data was not being shared with local law enforcement if applicants checked a box to keep their records private. After several discussions with the County, we were able to engage our State representatives to get the law changed.
"Thanks to Assemblywoman Paulin, Senator Biaggi and PWP, this law corrects that, statewide, though I’m proud to say it began in Pelham"
Mr. Kagan's letter to the governor is a PDF with this article.
In April 018, the PWP asked the Village Board to consider local legislation on the prevention of stockpiling by limits on number of firearms; requiring a license to buy a rifle or shot gun; prohibiting gun sales in in private homes; and limiting ammunition sales and requiring record keeping. The PWP memo on gun control is also posted with this article.
The PWP issued this statement after the legislation was signed by Gov. Cuomo:
“Part of what we do as an advocacy group is to bring information to light that can help shape policy on important issues.
"Given the gun violence that is so terrifying communities around the country, we looked to see where our own community could do better to protect our children and the sanctity of our public spaces.
"We were surprised to learn that Pelham lacks some basic gun safety provisions that many other villages and towns in our area have, and that the SAFE act at the state level does not address those basic provisions either. A survey of gun laws showed us that local communities have long enacted their own gun safety provisions, because communities needs and concerns are so different depending upon their size and location. So we asked our own village to consider taking steps to remedy the lack of provisions in our local code.
"We deeply appreciate having local elected officials who not only heard the information that we brought to them, but acted upon it, working with the legal advisors that we were able to connect them with as well as with county and state officials to bring about this next step toward filling in the gaps in gun safety provisions that keep our communities vulnerable - and doing so in a way that benefits other villages as well.”