Cuomo wants NY to step up mandatory gun surrenders in domestic violence cases

Under Gov. Cuomo, New York has passed some of the strongest gun control laws in the nation, but he contends the work is not done. (Photo: NY Governor's Office)

Under Gov. Cuomo, New York has passed some of the strongest gun control laws in the nation, but he contends the work is not done. (Photo: NY Governor’s Office)

As his first proposal of the 2018 legislative year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday a push to expand the list of misdemeanor crimes resulting in the loss of gun rights.

Besides ensuring that all domestic violence misdemeanors in New York find their way to the list of prohibited offenses triggering gun removals, Cuomo also wants judges to mandate the surrender of all firearms owned by those who are the subject of a protective order and suspend any firearm license until the case is resolved.

“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,” said Cuomo, a Democrat who signed the state’s SAFE Act gun control package into law in 2013. “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.”

In a statement from Cuomo’s office, he cites that in 2016, firearms were used in 25 domestic homicides in the state. According to FBI statistics, the state overall saw 630 cases of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter last year.

Though federal law since 1996 has held that those with a conviction for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence cannot use, possess, or transport guns or ammunition, Cuomo intends to introduce legislation to expand the definition under New York law to include some strangulation and assault and battery crimes. Further, he plans to back a measure which would force those surrendering arms to give up rifles and shotguns as well, whereas current state law only applies to handguns.

Finally, the governor wants judges to be obligated to order gun surrenders in every domestic violence case, removing the current judicial discretion allowed under the law for those charged and the subject of a protective order but before their conviction.

At the end of 2016, federal regulators had 57,591 active files on prohibited firearms possessors reported from New York to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System due to protective orders in domestic abuse cases, a figure not bested by any other state.

The New York State Legislature begins their 2018 session on January 3.

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