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Five-Hour Course Proposed For Gun Purchases

A second proposal has been introduced in the state Legislature to require completion of a five-hour safety course before buying a gun or ammunition in New York state.

A.8262, sponsored by Assemblyman Demond Meeks, D-Rochester, is similar to legislation proposed earlier this year (A.7771) sponsored by Assemblywoman Chantel Jackson, D-Bronx. The main differences between the two bills comes in the requirements that would be imposed.

Jackson’s bill would require someone who wants to buy a gun to provide proof they have passed a mental health evaluation and achieved at least 90% accuracy at a shooting range using the type of weapon that will be purchased.

Meeks’ bill does not have those requirements. Instead, the Rochester Democrat focuses entirely on the five-hour course requirement. Any firearms dealer, gunsmith, operator or employee of an indoor or outdoor shooting range would be able to apply to be a state-authorized safety course instructor and be able to give a certificate to those who complete the course. No firearm, rifle, shotgun or ammunition would be allowed to be sold in New York unless the buyer completes the course and shows their completion certificate.

“Throughout our state and our nation, gun violence has become an epidemic that claims many lives every single day. It is of the utmost importance that New York state combats this issue with practical solutions that enable for safe gun ownership ,” Meeks wrote in his legislative justification. “Oftentimes inexperienced and untrained gun owners can find themselves in situations in which they don’t know how to properly and safely store, use, or transport their weapons. This safety course requirement will become a crucial instrument in maintaining safe gun ownership of New York.”

Earlier this year, there was a shooting outside a school in Rochester that didn’t involve students as well as two people shot while attending church in Rochester. Such incidents were the impetus for Meeks to introduce legislation earlier this year to require apply for a hunting license before purchasing a gun and to provide proof they have bought a safe storage depository for the gun — actions Meeks said will keep guns from falling into the hands of those who would use them illegally.

“Safe behavior such as properly locking guns is a fundamental feature of responsible gun ownership, and the goal is that this course will teach and reinforce this type of behavior. Tragedy can be avoided by teaching proper, safe, and responsible gun ownership,” Meeks wrote in support of his bill to require the five-hour course.

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