August 23, 2023
By Josh Christenson
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik asked Gov. Hochul Wednesday to delay the implementation of a new Empire State law that would tax and create a state-level purchase database of gun owners.
Stefanik and three other New York GOP lawmakers called on the governor to halt Executive Law 228, saying it was an unconstitutional measure that “targets law-abiding gun owners,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Post.
The law orders gun dealers to redirect background checks not to federal authorities, but to the New York State Police, who will create an office to oversee a new statewide database for firearms licenses and records.
The new state office would also assume responsibility for sending background checks on gun and ammunition sales to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
“This state order creates a duplicative office run by the State Police to act as a middleman, transferring background checks from registered firearm dealers to the NICS on the dealer’s behalf,” Stefanik told Hochul. “The sole purpose of this office will be collecting fees and increasing bureaucratic red tape.”
“Not only will a background check be required for a firearm purchase, but any subsequent purchase of ammunition will undergo a background check as well,” she went on. “This system will only increase the likelihood of backlogs, the possibility of mishandled personal information, and fails to consider an appeals process for individuals denied during background checks.”
Stefanik also said the legislation would contribute to more crime by diverting police resources — and infringe on gun owners’ rights rather than correct laws passed by state Democrats.
“As governor, you have continuously attacked the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers,” Stefanik added. “From attempting to implement concealed carry restrictions to shutting down gun shows across the State, your blatant attacks on law-abiding gun owners are clear.”
Stefanik and Reps. Claudia Tenney, Nick Langworthy and Brandon Williams called on Hochul to respond to their request by Sept. 13.
“New Yorkers’ Second Amendment rights are once again under siege as buyers and sellers are being kept in the dark about how to properly implement the burdensome new state order charging fees for firearm and ammunition background checks,” Stefanik told The Post. “Buyers and dealers have been left in limbo with no access to training and little information on the change.”
“Clearly, this disastrous policy was motivated by gun grabbing anti-Second Amendment radicals in Albany rather than by commonsense and the public safety of our Upstate New York communities,” she said. “Far Left Albany Democrats have once again assaulted our Constitutional right to bear arms and I will do everything in my power to stop their attacks on the sacred Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers.”
The letter comes after several legislative efforts by Hochul and New York Democrats to restrict gun ownership. A federal judge in October 2022 blocked provisions in a gun-control law that forced concealed carry applicants to submit their social media activity for review and to demonstrate “good moral character.”
The US Supreme Court earlier that year also ruled against a century-old New York law that forced handgun applicants who wanted to carry in public to show “proper cause” that the weapon was needed for self-defense.
In a 6-3 decision, the high court’s conservative majority found that the legislation “violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public.”
Roughly 14.5% of New York households own at least one gun, the fifth-lowest firearms ownership rate among US states, according to a 2020 RAND Corporation estimate.
New York recorded 1,078 firearms fatalities in 2021, the most recent year data was available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Read the article in the New York Post here.