People with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions will be prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms in New York State after the legislature passed a bill expanding gun restrictions placed on domestic violence offenders.
New York State already prohibits people convicted of felony domestic violence offenses from possessing firearms, but the bill, passed last weekend, takes the restrictions a step further. The measure is part of legislation included in the state’s budget plan originally proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) earlier this year.
“We won more gun safety for victims of domestic violence, and that was a great, great win,” Cuomo said over the weekend. “This bill, I believe, will actually save lives.”
The governor is right: A study published last year found that requiring people subject to domestic violence restraining orders to relinquish their guns can save lives, but only 16 states have such a requirement. We also know that if abusers have access to guns, their partners are five times more likely to be killed, and that a woman is murdered by an intimate partner with a gun every 16 hours in the United States.
New York’s move to disarm more domestic abusers comes just weeks after Oregon closed the so-called “boyfriend loophole” in federal gun law, banning people convicted of misdemeanor stalking or domestic violence against their partners from owning a firearm.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has, unsurprisingly but unfortunately, a long history of arguing that bills like New York’s and Oregon’s are Second Amendment violations.
In 2000, they filed an amicus brief in U.S. v. Emerson, a case that involved a challenge to a federal statute that aimed to prevent anyone subject to a court order prohibiting the use of physical force against an intimate partner or a child from transporting firearms or ammunition as a part of interstate commerce.
In the brief, the NRA argued that disarming the man in question — who was the subject of such a court order — would be a “radical extension of federal power,” boiling down the domestic dispute at hand to mere “divorce proceedings.”
In 2010, the NRA lobbied against two bills that would have expanded the definition of “misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence,” but in 2014, they began to quietly back away from domestic violence issues. It didn’t last long, however, and within months, they were lobbying against a federal bill that would have added convicted stalkers to the group offenders restricted from purchasing and possessing firearms.
The NRA’s idea for protecting victims of domestic violence, true to brand, is arming victims, something many victims have argued would make things worse, not better. Research proves they’re right — introducing guns into already violent and volatile situations will only make them more deadly.
Despite the NRA’s absolutism and dedication to lining the pockets of legislators around the country, New York and Oregon join a number of states that have passed common sense gun reforms in the wake of the Parkland shooting that left 17 people dead at a Florida high school two months ago.
Florida’s Republican governor has raised the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21, banned bump stocks, and imposed a mandatory three-day waiting period on gun purchases. Vermont’s House of Representatives has also voted to raise the age and ban the sale of bump stocks, as well as imposing universal background checks and partially banning high-capacity magazines.
New Jersey, too, has imposed a number of gun restrictions in recent months, including banning the sale of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, outlawing the sale of armor-piercing bullets, as well as preventing access to guns for people with mental illness or people who might pose a threat to others. (Notably, for Americans, the odds of having a mental disorder in their lifetime is greater than 50 percent, and the vast majority of people with a mental health diagnosis do not pose any threat to others.)
Rhode Island has also taken steps to keep guns away from people who could “pose significant threats to public safety,” after Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) issued an executive order in February.