Today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed landmark legislation to crack down on “ghost guns,” untraceable firearms used by criminals to evade background checks. The move follows action by the New York State Senate and Assembly, who passed the legislation in June, 2021. Together, The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act (S.13a), sponsored by Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), and The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act (S.14a), sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WFP-Manhattan) and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan), create the strongest protections from these dangerous weapons in the nation.
“Gun violence is a public health and public safety crisis that must be dealt with aggressively,” said Governor Hochul. “Working with partners at all levels, my administration will continue to crack down on the distribution and possession of dangerous weapons and put an end to the gun violence epidemic.”
“If you can’t pass a background check to get a gun, then you shouldn’t be able to get a gun–period. For too long, the unfinished receiver loophole let anyone get their hands on all the parts needed to build an untraceable, unregistered AR-15 without ever going through a background check, but today, we’re taking historic action here in New York to close that dangerous loophole for good” said State Senator Anna M. Kaplan. “I’m proud to be the sponsor of the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act because I know it’s going to save lives, just like Scott Beigel did when he gave his life to protect his students from gunfire during the attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I’m grateful for my partners in this effort, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Chuck Lavine, and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, each of whom has shown extraordinary leadership to make sure our state is combating the scourge of gun violence. And most importantly, I want to thank Scott Beigel’s parents Linda and Michael, for never giving up the fight to ensure that our communities are safe from gun violence.”
State Senator Brad Hoylman said: “In the last three years, we’ve seen a 479% increase in ghost gun seizures across the state. Thanks to the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act being signed today we’re addressing this growing problem by banning the sale and possession of ghost guns, so nobody will be able to purchase these firearms without first passing a background check. I’m deeply grateful for the advocacy and support of Jose Webster’s sister, Nathalie Arzu, along with Assembly Member Rosenthal, Senator Kaplan, Assembly Member Levine, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and Governor Hochul for their leadership on this important issue.”
During the COVID-19 crisis, gun violence has spiked; so have sales of firearms and ghost guns. At the beginning of the pandemic, gun manufacturers reported massive sales of ghost gun kits; at least 16 manufacturers told customers they were experiencing shipping delays due to a high volume of orders.
Ghost guns continue to pose a threat, both in New York and nationwide. Last week, a Queens man who had been ordering gun parts online was caught with an arsenal of do-it-yourself “ghost guns”. ProPublica reported that the “Boogaloo Boys,” a right-wing militia group involved with January 6, 2021, Capitol riots, have embraced ghost guns as one of their preferred weapons.
“The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act”, sponsored by Senator Anna M. Kaplan and Assemblymember Charles Lavine, specifically addresses the proliferation of “unfinished receivers” or “80% Receivers” which can be purchased online without a background check and which are easily converted into operable firearms by people with limited skills.
- Defines what constitutes an unfinished frame or receiver
- Makes possession of an unfinished frame or receiver by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer illegal
- Prohibits the possession of major components of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by persons who are otherwise lawfully prohibited from possessing such weapons
- Makes it illegal to sell or transfer an unfinished frame or receiver to anyone other than a licensed gunsmith or dealer
Senator Kaplan and Assemblymember Lavine’s legislation is named in memory of Scott J. Beigel, the hero teacher of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who lost his life during the shooting over three years ago while shielding his students from gunfire. Beigel’s parents, Linda Beigel Schulman and Michael Schulman of Long Island are nationally recognized advocates in the fight against gun violence.
“The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act” sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, prohibits the sale and possession of unregistered ghost guns and ensures law enforcement will be able to track the manufacture and sale of all guns in New York.
- Defines a “ghost gun” as any firearm, rifle, or shotgun that isn’t serialized and registered in accordance with either state or federal law
- Prohibits the possession of ghost guns by anyone but a licensed gunsmith
- Prohibits the sale of ghost guns entirely
- Prohibits the manufacture or assembly of a firearm, rifle, or shotgun by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith
- Requires New York gunsmiths to serialize all firearms, rifles, shotguns, or unfinished frames or receivers they manufacture or assemble, and to register any such gun, or unfinished frame or receiver that isn’t otherwise covered by federal serialization law with the Division of State Police
Senator Hoylman and Assemblymember Rosenthal’s legislation is named in memory of Jose Webster, a young man from The Bronx killed by gun violence in 2011. Webster’s sister, Nathalie Arzu, has become a gun violence prevention advocate.
The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act, S.13a, will take effect in 180 days. Individuals who currently possess an unfinished frame or receiver as defined in the new law have 360 days from today to either voluntarily surrender the unfinished frame or receiver to authorized law enforcement officials, or bring the piece into compliance with the law regarding serialization and registration.
The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, S.14a, will take effect in 180 days. There is a six-month grace period to turn in ghost guns or have them registered and serialized.
Photo credit: 1-3) From left to right: Jacob Dixon; CEO of Choice For All, Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Linda Beigel Schulman, Senator Brad Hoylman, Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Kevin Thomas, Senator Anna Kaplan, Senator John Brooks, Assemblywoman Taylor Darling. Photo credit: Office of Senator Anna M. Kaplan.