Senate Passes Bill to Keep Guns Out of the Hands of Felons

ALBANY (June 30, 2010) The New York State Senate unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senator Darrel J. Aubertine to prohibit persons convicted of felonies from lawfully possessing muzzle-loading or black powder rifles, shotguns (S.8004).

“When our founding fathers framed the constitution, they believed the second most important right was to allow law-abiding persons to protect themselves and their families, I couldn’t agree more,” said Senator Darrel J. Aubertine. “This bill, however, removes the right of criminals, those not suitable to possess a rifle or shot gun to possess a muzzle-loading or black powder rifle because their past violent criminal behavior has proven that they don’t deserve the same rights as law abiding citizens. Twice in the recent past, convicted felons have used these guns to injure state troopers.”

“Public safety and common sense have prevailed,” said Senator Eric Schneiderman, co-sponsor of the bill and chairman of the Senate Codes Committee. “No longer will criminals have the power to exploit a loophole in the law that allows them to possess muzzle-loaded or black powder rifles. With violence against law enforcement officers on the rise, this is exactly the kind of smart-on-crime law we need to protect the public, and the people that protect us every day.”

Under penal law felons are precluded from owning rifles and handguns, however, they can possesses muzzle-loading or black powder rifles. The recent escalation of violence against police officers and civilians through the use of muzzle-loaded rifles by persons with previous violent criminal histories has aptly displayed a loophole in the Penal Law which generally prohibits the possession, use and/or sale of firearms. This failure to prohibit the use or possession of muzzle-loaded rifles by said individuals has resulted in the shooting of two New York State Troopers within a short time span.

“We applaud the NYS Senate’s swift and decisive action to close the loophole that allowed convicted felons to possess black powder firearms. The passage of this bill demonstrates their commitment to protect Law Enforcement, and the community we serve, from having to address dangerous felons armed with these weapons,” said Daniel Sisto, 2nd Vice President NYS Troopers PBA.

On June 18, 2007, State Police Officer Amanda Reif responded to a call of a domestic disturbance in the Town of Potsdam. Upon entering the front yard of a residence, Trooper Reif was shot in her left shoulder by a .50 caliber muzzle-loading rifle. The perpetrator had a lengthy criminal history that precluded him from possessing or using all firearms and rifle. Unfortunately, the loophole gave the perpetrator the ability to lawfully possess the muzzle-loaded rifle as well as a muzzle-loading shot gun found at the scene.

On August 28, 2008 State Police Officer George Stannard responded to a call of a suicidal emotionally disturbed individual in the Town of Harrietstown. While Trooper Stannard engaged the individual in a dialogue, the individual drew up a .50 caliber muzzle-loading rifle and shot trooper Stannard though his hand. Even though the individual was precluded from carrying, using or possessing firearms, the individual lawfully possessed the muzzle-loading rifle due to the loophole.

Similar legislation is carried in the Assembly by Assemblyman Al Stripe from North Syracuse.