Democrats in the New York Assembly this week approved a legislative domestic violence agenda that included bills to change the state’s gun laws.
“This legislative package reflects the Assembly Majority’s commitment to ensuring that domestic violence survivors are given every protection the state can offer and the support they need to regain their lives,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie in a statement. “Our goal has been and will continue to be to reduce domestic violence and empower those seeking to escape and overcome it.”
Lawmakers backing the measures contend that domestic violence abusers convicted of violations of “run-of-the-mill misdemeanor assault and battery laws” are not barred from firearms possession under state law and in the cases of those who do lose their rights to purchase new guns there is no mechanism in place forcing them to surrender guns they already possess.
The bills would amend New York law in both cases, expanding misdemeanor domestic assault convictions to strip away gun rights and force those convicted in any case to turn over any modern or antique firearms, black powder rifles, black powder shotguns and muzzle-loading firearms to police.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who authored one of the measures and supported the other, pointed to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse from purchasing and possessing guns as the reason to change the Empire State’s law.
“The law right now has a big hole,” Paulin said in a statement. “When a person is convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, he or she cannot buy or possess a firearm under federal law. But if he already owns a gun and he’s convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, there’s nothing in the law that says he has to give up his guns. That makes no sense at all.”
The surrender mandate, A.980, was well received by assembly members, passing with a bipartisan 131-7 vote. The misdemeanor expansion, A.5025, was more polarizing, passing in a Democrat-heavy 90-51 margin. Each is now in the Republican-controlled Senate, which has rejected similar legislative pushes in the past.