Senate Majority Passes Legislation To Combat ‘Ghost Guns” From Harlem To Hollis

The Senate Democratic Majority today advanced legislation sponsored by Senators Brad Hoylman and Anna Kaplan to strengthen the penalties and regulation of unfinished receivers and guns without serial numbers, also known as “Ghost Guns.” These bills will protect New York communities against gun violence and keep unlicensed firearms out of the hands of criminals.

Ghost guns are firearms without serial numbers, which are often sold as pieces that can be easily made complete with standard power tools and are widely available online.

These parts are often sold with instructions, which creates an avenue for anyone to have an unregulated and untraceable firearm.

“Next week will mark three years since the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the Senate Democratic Majority continues to take strong action to prevent gun violence,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “These bills will help prevent the manufacturing, possession, and sale of untraceable guns — building upon our efforts to make our communities safer. I commend Senators Anna Kaplan and Brad Hoylman for their sponsorship of this important legislation.”

The legislation passed by the Senate Majority includes:

  • Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act: This bill S.13  sponsored by Senator Anna Kaplan will prohibit possession of unfinished receivers by anyone other than a gunsmith and establish the sale of an unfinished frame or receiver as a crime of first, second, and third degree.
  • Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act: This bill S.14 sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman will criminalize the possession of  guns without serial numbers, known as ghost guns, by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith, prohibit the sale of ghost guns entirely,  and require anyone manufacturing or assembling a firearm in New York to be a licensed gunsmith. It also requires New York gunsmiths to serialize any firearms, rifles, shotguns, and unfinished firearm frames or receivers  they  manufacture  or  assemble,  and  register those not otherwise covered under federal law with the Division of State Police.

Bill Sponsor, Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Nearly 10,000 ghost guns were recovered by law enforcement nationally in 2019, according to ATF—that’s thousands of dangerous firearms in the hands of individuals who didn’t have to pass a background check.

New York enacted historic gun safety legislation in 2013, but these untraceable weapons can evade the strong protections we fought so hard to pass. In the midst of a global pandemic, traditional gun sales hit record highs and ghost gun retailers reported sky-high demand. New Yorkers need to be protected from these dangerous weapons, and that’s why I’m proud to sponsor the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act with Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal.

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Our bill will ban the sale and possession of ghost guns and ensure law enforcement has the necessary tools to track the manufacture and sale of all guns in New York. I’m pleased it has passed today alongside the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act, legislation sponsored by Senator Anna Kaplan and Assembly Member Charles Lavine, making up a comprehensive legislative package that will provide New Yorkers with the strongest ghost gun protections in the nation.

I’m honored to pass this bill today in memory of Jose Webster, a teenager from New York City who lost his life due to gun violence. I’m deeply grateful for the advocacy and support of his sister Nathalie Arzu and for the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.”

Bill Sponsor, Senator Anna Kaplan said, “If you can’t pass a background check to obtain a firearm legally, then you shouldn’t be able to circumvent the process by making your own out of parts you bought online either. The ‘unfinished receiver loophole’ in our gun laws allows too many dangerous ghost guns into our community every year, and with the rise of extremism across the country driving huge demand for these untraceable weapons, we must take action to close it right away. As we mark three years since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, I couldn’t be more proud to sponsor ‘The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act,’ which will close the dangerous unfinished receiver loophole, because I know that it will 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 so grateful to Scott’s parents Linda and Michael for their passionate advocacy for sensible gun safety laws, to Senator Brad Hoylman for his leadership and partnership on this legislation, and I’m thankful for the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Andrea-Stewart Cousins for always ensuring that the Senate is responsive to the needs of our community.”

Rebecca Fischer, Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said, “With gun violence surging in New York due to the pandemic, our state must take action again to strengthen our gun safety laws. The number of untraceable ghost-gun cases in New York and across the country has continued to grow, and together, the Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act and the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act would help stop the flow of unserialized ghost guns and prevent gun violence within our communities. We applaud Senator Anna Kaplan, Senator Brad Hoylman, and the NYS Senate for their leadership and for keeping our communities safe during this unprecedented period of upheaval.”

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Linda Beigel Schulman, mother of Scott J. Beigel, said “On February 14, 2018, my son Scott J. Beigel was murdered during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Massacre while protecting and saving the lives of his students. Since that horrible day, I have made my life’s mission to work to protect people from senseless and preventable gun violence through the enactment of reasonable gun safety legislation. I am truly overwhelmed and humbled by the actions of Senator Anna Kaplan, Senator Brad Hoylman, and the New York State Senate today in honoring Scott with the passage of Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act. The Scott J. Beigel Unfinished Receiver Act addresses the latest continuing threat from gun violence, Ghost Guns. Ghost Guns are untraceable firearms. The only person who would purchase a Ghost Gun is someone who cannot pass a background check. Senator Anna Kaplan is by far one of the most honest, dedicated and caring individuals we have working for us in our government. My sentiments are not because this bill is named in honor of my son Scott. My sentiments come from working with and knowing the person, Anna Kaplan. Anna Kaplan fights for what she believes in. Anna Kaplan fights for the good for all of us. Anna Kaplan fights for what she knows will keep us all safe from totally unnecessary and preventable gun violence. We all need to give thanks to Senator Anna Kaplan for her caring, listening, and continuous fighting, against all odds, for all of us. That being said, this legislation is only the first step. When passed by the New York State Assembly and signed by Governor Cuomo, this legislation will save lives. This legislation will help keep us all safe from senseless and preventable gun violence.”

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