Letter from Dan Butterman
Gun violence takes the lives of too many New Yorkers, and it is taking more and more each year. When elected to the Assembly I will work to make our gun laws fairer and more effective. I will not take weapons away from law-abiding citizens, but will work to take them away from criminals. And I will do this with input from gun violence experts – law enforcement professionals.
In 2014, gun-related deaths in the U.S. numbered 33,508, but by 2020 that had risen to 45,055. Nearly every state has experienced an increase. New York rose 26% – almost 200 more people each year by 2020 than in 2014. Something must be done about it. Our state legislature passed several laws focused on guns in 2022. The new laws include limits on where guns can be carried, added background checks for ammunition purchases, mandated annual handgun training, and even required applicants for concealed carry permits to provide character references and social media accounts. Some of these actions were in response to the Supreme Court’s decision eliminating New York’s long-standing concealed carry permit application requirements, and others were in response to the supermarket attack in Buffalo.
I am thankful our legislature is willing to act quickly, but I fear the resultant legislative actions will not have the potent effect on gun violence our legislators envisioned. Good ideas are the product of an inclusive process that considers many possibilities. However, the process of enacting these new gun laws did not include adequate input from law enforcement. The New York Sheriff’s Association said, “If we had been consulted before passage of these laws, we could have helped the legislators […] and the result would have been better, more workable licensing provisions that respect the rights of our law-abiding citizens and punish the lawbreakers.”
I believe that law enforcement and their expertise should be carefully considered when debating new action to address gun violence. The recent set of gun laws passed the Senate along party lines, but in the Assembly, three Democratic members from Central New York voted against them. They expressed concern that the process was rushed. If elected in November, I will carefully work with my colleagues from both parties to address gun violence, and will work specifically on supporting legislation that keeps guns away from domestic abusers and others who have shown a propensity to violence. Finally, I will ensure that we support and include our police agencies, who must do the hard work of enforcing the laws.