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You are here: Home Section Table Shout it Out Paulin's Bill Requiring Safe Storage of Guns Clears State Assembly and Senate
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Paulin's Bill Requiring Safe Storage of Guns Clears State Assembly and Senate

safestorageAssemblymember Amy Paulin announced that her bill (A. 2686A) to require the safe and secure storage of rifles, shotguns, and handguns to prevent access by children and other prohibited persons has passed the New York State Assembly and the State Senate. The bill is designed to curb accidental injuries and deaths, particularly of children, and will also help prevent incidents of suicide and theft.

“New York state law already requires the safe storage of rifles, shotguns, and handguns in households when a person who lives there has been convicted of a crime, is subject to an order of protection, or other factors,” said Assemblymember Paulin. “This bill adds households where a child under the age of 16 lives, or times when a child of that age could reasonably be expected to be visiting a house. Given everything we know about the effect a gun in the home can have on our children’s health and safety, and the many tragic stories when a firearm was left unattended by an adult, this bill is absolutely necessary for keeping our kids safe.”

A priority for advocates for reducing gun violence for many years, the bill gained statewide prominence in response to the story of 12 year-old Nicholas Naumkin of Wilton, New York, who was fatally shot at a classmate’s house in 2010 when his friend was playing with his father’s unsecured gun. Guns that are not safely stored have continued to be a persistent danger to children, including in 2017, when a 15 year-old in Glen Cove accidentally and fatally shot himself with a legally permitted handgun that he had found at a friend’s house.

Safe storage options, including locked cabinets, safes, gun vaults, or storage cases, are in widespread use among responsible gun owners and have been recommended for years by sporting associations and pediatricians alike. Nevertheless, a 2018 report from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that more than half of U.S. gun owners still do not voluntarily store their guns safely.

In addition to accidents, adolescents also face increased risk of suicides in households where guns are not secure. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the mere presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of suicidal thoughts. Also according to AFSP’s most recent annual report, 51% of all suicides in the United States are by a firearm, and 60% of gun-related deaths are suicides.

The bill requires that any gun owner who lives with a child under 16 must safely store their firearm when it is not in their direct control in an appropriate safe storage depository and/or by using a gun locking device to prevent the weapon from being fired. The same requirement would apply to a household where one of the persons living there is currently prohibited from possessing a firearm, or when a gun owner would reasonably expect a child under the age of 16 to be present – for example, a visit from a relative, a friend’s child, or a neighbor. The only exception to this requirement is for children under 16 who have been granted a hunting license or permit.

Should the bill be signed into law by the Governor, the failure of a gun owner to safely store his or her weapon properly would now be a criminal offense and could result in fines.

“Despite all our progress, it is still simply too easy for guns to fall into the wrong hands,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin. “Preventing children from obtaining access to firearms by requiring safe storage will enable us to prevent accidents, suicides and school incidents that put our children in harm’s way. It is an important step that will keep our families safe without impinging on the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

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