The Democratic-led houses of the state Legislature on Tuesday gave final approval to a package of gun control measures that are broadly meant to halt the flow of illegal weapons into New York.
Gun rights advocates have knocked the measures as doing little to aid public safety at a time when shootings are up in cities across New York, saying lawmakers are simply trying to distract from the rise in crime.
The bills add to New York's already stringent gun laws, tackling a long-standing concern that the state can do little stem the tide of firearms across their borders that are not as tightly regulated as other states.
The measures include a bill that would make it easier for lawsuits to be filed against gun manufacturers who are believed to have sold firearms to gun dealers that in turn has helped fuel the criminal marketplace.
“Right now, only one industry in the United States enjoys blanket immunity from civil liability under federal law for negligence in the use of their products; the gun industry," said Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, a Democrat from Albany who backed the bill with Brookyn Sen. Zellnor Myrie. "Passing this landmark legislation will allow gun manufacturers knowingly utilizing bad actors and dealers to market their products to be held civilly liable for the damage they cause on our streets. We have always led the nation on gun legislation — and we aren’t letting up now to help keep New Yorkers safe from the scourge of gun violence."
Another bill would bar the possession of so-called "ghost guns" in New York that are assembled using unserialized parts that are more difficult for law enforcement to trace. Gunsmiths would be required to serialize and register with the State Police any unserialized firearm, rifle, shotgun, finished frame or receiver, as well as unfinished frames and receivers in their possession.
“New York has some of the strongest gun control laws in the country, and the proliferation of ghost guns — unserialized and untraceable firearms — threatens to undermine our laws and make New Yorkers and their families less safe," said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. "New York and the rest of the country has seen a marked increase in the sales of ghost gun kits and gun violence, which make it harder for law enforcement to get dangerous weapons off our streets and track down those committing gun violence."
New York Rifle and Pistol Association President Tom King in an interview last week criticized the measures, saying they would do little to make streets safer.
"I think this gun control stuff is a diversion because the politicians don't want to face the real facts that there's a problem with crime in the cities; lack of police support," he said. "If you allow the process of vicarious liability to spread to different products, the only people who are going to be winners in this are the trial lawyers association."
The bills will head to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk for his consideration; Cuomo has been a staunch supporter of gun control measures during his time in office.