Despite Strict Gun Laws, Weapons Still Wind Up In Wrong Hands

During a probation check on Jamestown’s east side earlier this week, officers found a rifle with a defaced serial number in a home with a convicted felon who isn’t allowed to have firearms. Last week, two handguns – one stolen – were found during a drug raid on Whitley Avenue.

A drug raid on Price Street in early March turned up a rifle that was later determined to have been stolen. A traffic stop the same day resulted in drug and weapons charges after a rifle was found in a vehicle driven by a convicted felon who isn’t legally allowed to have a firearm.

Even worse, two Syracuse-area police officers were killed earlier this week in a traffic stop gone awry. The shooter used an AR-15 rifle with a 40-round clip. It’s illegal, under the SAFE Act, to have more than 10 rounds. And if the clip was removable, then the gun was itself illegal.

New York’s doing a good job of keeping guns out of the wrong hands, isn’t it?

The SAFE Act, parts of which were found unconstitutional, parts of which couldn’t be implemented because the technology didn’t exist and parts of which have been changed in the years since passage, was approved under the veil of protecting the public. The 2022 Concealed Carry Improvement Act was passed under the veil of protecting the public – but as it turns out, placing limits on legal gun ownership isn’t doing much to protect the public.

One way to protect the public would have been to pass legislation introduced in 2022 by state Sen. Anna Kaplan and Assemblyman Charles Lavine (S.8782/A.9943) that would have changed the charge of third- and second-degree criminal possession of a weapon to include anyone who has been convicted of a felony found in possession of a rifle, shotgun, antique firearm, black powder shotgun or any muzzle-loading firearm and to increase the severity of those charges from a class A misdemeanor to at least a class D felony, with the option for more stringent charges.

“The current penalties associated with convicted felons and the illegal possession of firearms aren’t commensurate with the crimes committed,” Kaplan wrote. “Increasing the penalty for these offenses to a class D or class C felony is more appropriate. This legislation will have zero impact on lawful gun owners while providing harsher penalties for gun-related offenses committed by convicted felons.”

Three months after Kaplan’s bill was first introduced, the state Legislature held a special session to pass the Concealed Carry Improvement Act. Kaplan’s bill never progressed out of committee in either the Senate or Assembly and it hasn’t been introduced since.

So much for protecting the public.


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