Little New York Regulation of Rifle Used in Deadly Shootings

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Almost 19,000 New Yorkers applied for a handgun license in 2009. The state police know who they are, the type of gun they own and where the guns were sold. But when it comes to rifles like the one used to kill 20 first-graders in Newtown, they haven’t got a clue.

Despite having some of the toughest gun laws in the country, New York State does not require any kind of license to buy a rifle or shotgun and doesn’t bother to track such weapons.

As gun control looms as a major political issue this year, advocates like Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center say tightening rules for these so-called long-guns should be on the table.

“Well I think at one time it made sense to focus on having permitting systems for handguns and not long guns, Rand said. “That was before the gun industry became entirely militarized so that we see these military style assault rifles becoming incredibly popular, but because they’re long-guns they would be exempt from that sort of permitting scheme.”

New York State does have an assault weapons ban in place. But the category of rifle used in Newtown and shortly after to kill two firefighters in Webster is legal. And the state doesn’t even require a permit to buy such guns.

Rand said that points to the current law’s limitations — given the increase in weapons that seemed designed to kill other humans.

“I think New York improving their assault weapons ban is incredibly important,” she said. “I think you saw the kind of damage that can be done with an assault rifle with the attack on the firefighters and it’s easy to fix.”

State figures show murders with rifles are rare. But that doesn’t mean such guns aren’t being used in crimes.

Of the almost 8,800 crime guns New York police departments asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track in 2011, more than 2,100 were rifles or shotguns.

And the percentage is higher when you look at specific communities, particularly those upstate.

Jackie Hilly, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said that’s why it’s important to note the state doesn’t track rifles.

“I think it does matter. It certainly matters in Buffalo where 50 percent of the guns used in crime are long guns,” Hilly said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated he wants to address the issue. At a meeting Wednesday he said he’d strongly support gun control legislation.

“I think what the nation is saying now after Connecticut, what people in New York are saying is ‘Do something, please,’” Cuomo said.

He and legislators might find a model in New York City. There residents do need a permit to own a rifle or shotgun, and choices are more limited.

In the city, semiautomatic rifles with bayonet mounts, grenade launchers or pistol grips are illegal. Such features are legal in the rest of the state, so long as a gun only has one and not multiple features on the list of assault weapon characteristics.

Jacob Rieper, vice president of legislative affairs for the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said any changes that go after guns or legal gun owners won’t work.

“All of these ideas they’re based on the false premise that somehow guns are the problem. They’re not,” Rieper said. “You have to focus on personal behavior, on criminals especially on the mentally ill.”

New York has a chance to be a leader nationwide in terms of gun control, advocates say. But unless there are federal changes, the impact will be limited.

Statewide the majority of guns used in crimes come from outside New York, many from states with much weaker gun laws.


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Comments [12]

NYVoter from NY

Your NY Assault Weapon Ban in place now regulated cosmetic features and folding stocks. That's what you all thought made them so evil. But NOW that you've done that , you want to Ban/Regulate all the NYS Compliant Rifles because of how they function ? Eventually ALL semi-autos will end up banned because they were made to work correctly- which is why we buy them and pay for that dependability.There are millions of Law abiding Gun Owners out there who own AR's and AK's - we are fed up with being threatened with losing out rights and penalized for this or any madmans crime. We know what you'd see all Gun Owners back to using only cap and ball muzzle loaders if you could . Then , the mentally ill walking our streets would just recreate nightmares like this ..with $1 worth of Gas --
The State can pass hundreds of draconian Gun laws but they will never be able to prevent a psychotic individual from wreaking havoc.

Jan. 07 2013 01:46 AM
John from NJ

Since more people are killed by hammers and clubs* than rifles shouldn't the cops know who has these things also?
Oh and in a separate statistic * more people in the US are killed with "Hands and feet" than with rifles perhaps there should be another registry for those.
*-FBI Uniform crime reports for 2005 - 2011.
If we are really trying to make people safe instead of just remove the other fellows rights because we fear him we could do that just by requiring breathalyzers in all motor vehicles that lock out the ignition at a predetermined B.A.L. of course I’m assuming the reason for gun control is safety not just control.

Jan. 03 2013 07:28 PM
Invapd from Upstate NY for now

The gun that killed those firefighters were killed by a Man who should NEVER have been released from Prison!!! He Murdered a Family Member by beating them to death with a hammer! Who was suppose to be Supervising him and where is that accountability? Newton Connecticut the Suspect had to Murder his Mother a Teacher who knew her Son was Mentally Ill and FAILED to SECURE her Weapons properly!!!!! The system WORKED because he tried to buy weapons legally and was denied!!!! These incidents are being used to BULLY Law Abiding Citizens, plain and simple!!!!! Criminals will still have weapons with zillion round magazines and thugs will now have an advantage over the rest of us! Be prepared for Civil Lawsuits because of your ILLEGAL ACTIONS VIOLATING the Constitution of America!!!

Jan. 03 2013 07:24 PM
sam M

Very sad to hear these reports out of NY. Like many 'New Yorkers' after college I left the State a in search of a high paying career. I found success clear across the country. I've started a new family of my own and as a gun owner including AR-15 rifles, I now feel I can never move back to NY. I was hoping to bring my new found technology skills to NY and create my own business. It's a sad day for me and my family.

Please read the article below. A recent harvard law study. These are facts not fiction and hysteria. I'm sorry but liberty is more important than perceived safety. What would have stopped the Sandy Hook shooter is treatment from a mental heath institution, but very few talk about that.

Jan. 03 2013 05:14 PM
Wolf45acp from NY

Last year, these so-called "assault rifles" were used in .007% of all homicides in New York. I'm not sure what planet Jackie Hilly is on - although her motives are clear - nor Governor Cuomo. We already have an assault weapons ban in NY and I can't recall the last time anybody tried to commit a crime with a bayonet lug or pistol grip. Seriously - a billy club is illegal in NY, but one can walk into Wal-Mart or Dick's and buy a baseball bat. I feel much safer with these brilliant elected officials we have. ATTENTION NYS SENATE REPUBLICANS - IT WILL COST YOU MY VOTE IN THE FUTURE IF YOU SUPPORT A SINGLE, SOLITARY MEASURE OF THESE ANTI-GUN BILLS.

Jan. 03 2013 03:52 AM
Bill Dodd

"And the state doesn’t even require a permit to buy such guns." You don't need a permit per say but you still need to go through the federal background check to buy any firearm. This is suppose to attest that you don't have a criminal record, are mentally stable, and don't have court orders against you for threatening someone. Criminals who buy or steal guns illegally (only way a criminal can get their hands on a gun) don't go through the background check, nor would they bother to apply for a permit. I'm all for gun laws that actually prevent criminals from getting firearms. I don't support laws that satisfy a need to "just do something to make us feel better". Look harder at the laws regarding assault or violent crime with any type of weapon and increase the mandated penalty there. Look at mental health issues. Right now New York is being forced by the federal government to release a large percentage of it's mental health patients from supervised medical care. I hate to see the effect that has on the number of homeless and the crime rate from that.

Jan. 02 2013 11:28 PM
dave d from syr

If anymore firearm restrictions are implemented in NY I will be moving.
I'm a big proponent of "voting with our feet".

I'd like to see Remington and Kimber put NY in their rescue as Well.

Jan. 02 2013 10:55 PM
Chris Drake

Somebody apparently hasn't filled you in that the rifle was never used in the Newtown shootings. Don't you think you should at least get the basic facts right?

Jan. 02 2013 08:43 PM
Rick D from New York State

“I think what the nation is saying now after Connecticut, what people in New York are saying is ‘Do something, please,’” Cuomo said.

Who are these people that Cuomo is talking about ?

I don't know anybody who has said this and i know a lot of Long Gun & Hand Gun owners, and they are all law abiding citizens and went thru the checks and paperwork to purchase their firearms and none of them have a criminal record.

Just curious where this poll was taken. It seems pretty fabricated and geared towards a particular agenda of gun control /confiscation and nothing more.

All Gun owners in NY state had to go thru a back ground check and fill out the ATF paper work to buy a rifle, so yes they do know who owns what Riffle that were purchased form any retailer.

These politicians should be focusing on the real issues at hand. the mental health issue and doctor prescribed drugs thats the common factor in all the cases.

Thats where the attention should go. If it wasn't for mind/mood altering prescription drugs and mental health issues this would never of happened in any of the cases.

Its not about the gun its only about control over the citizens, Ask Dianne Feinstein she's been trying to take away Americas guns for many years now. She has a vendetta out against Americans and their guns.

Jan. 02 2013 08:39 PM
CaseyA from Central NY

Get an education on firearms before you start writing about them. Your use of "military style" and "assault weapon" mean nothing. Stop sounding like a politician shilling for votes and try actually informing your readers.

Lanza didn't even use the Bushmaster. How, exactly, would knowing that Adam Lanza's mom had a Bushmaster rifle have stopped the Sandy Hook massacre? How would having her rifle registered have stopped the massacre?

When you can answer those questions then maybe you can inform your readers about what's really going on with these left-wing, power mad politicans really want to do.

Jan. 02 2013 08:30 PM
Nicholas from NY, NY

Your story is inaccurate! No rifle was used in the Sandyhook shooting. So basically you are lying to the public. Is it too much to ask that you get your facts straight and actually report the truth? Isn't that what "Journalism" is all about? You also take it a step further and lump modern sporting rifles in with ALL rifles & even shotguns when stating crime statistics. I also see that you failed to mention that it has been proven that our previous ban on modern sporting rifles yielded NO affect on crime. From 1994-2004 there was no increase or decrease on gun related violent crime, which was a major determining factor in letting the bill expire. Seems to me that your organization is devoid of any journalistic standards.

Jan. 02 2013 08:09 PM
Rob Q from New York

i ask you to please stop trying to make a story out of gun control, yes you don't need to have a permit to own a "long gun or rifle" the gun in the picture was not even used in the newtown shooting. The guns were hand guns, when buying a rifle they are still doing a backround check on you witch is why there was an arrest in this case of a woman that got them for him.... PLEASE STOP TRYING TO MAKE A STORY WHEN YOUR NOT GIVING A THE RIGHT DETAILS!!! Thanks for reading

Jan. 02 2013 07:59 PM

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