City Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) announced today’s introduction of legislation guaranteeing community access and mandating a community notification requirement within the City’s gun offender registry. Constantinides was joined by bill co-sponsors Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Council Members Ritchie Torres (D-the Bronx) and Paul Vallone (D-Bayside).
Constantinides said, “This online gun offender registry bill will promote public safety and guarantee our communities are notified when a registered gun offender lives within their neighborhood. Gun violence is a public policy challenge which requires a multitude of solutions. Protecting the public’s right to know their neighbor is an essential building block of fostering stronger community relations. The Gun Offender Registry bill will better equip our city in the effort to combat and eradicate gun violence.”
Diaz said, “A safer New York State, and a safer nation, demands that we shine a light on those individuals who would commit gun crimes in our neighborhoods. An easily-accessible gun crime registry will serve as an excellent tool not only to keep neighborhoods informed about crime, but to serve as a deterrent from such acts. I am proud to stand with my colleagues today to reintroduce this legislation, which I first proposed in my 2013 ‘State of the Borough’ address, and I look forward to seeing it become law.”
Torres said, “We must take every measure to stem the tide of gun violence in New York City. This bill will create a commonsense crime-fighting tool that provides both law-enforcement and community members with real-time information on violent gun-offenders in their neighborhoods.”
Vallone said, “This important piece of legislation will ensure our citizens have access to and are notified of the most recent available information regarding convicted gun offenders in their neighborhoods. Spreading awareness and information is a great step towards tackling the issue of gun violence and preventing more gun crimes. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in support of this legislation.”
From January 2013 to July of this year, there have been 1,400 shooting incidents and there have been 1,190 shooting victims.
The bill mandates that registered gun offenders will be listed in a publicly available online sub-directory, which will provide a searchable database. Individuals can sign up for free automatic email notifications when an offender moves into a geographic area they specified.
The registry will be updated on a monthly basis and will include: the offender’s name, block on which they live, a physical description, the crime the offender was convicted of, and sentence imposed. Gun offenders are required to be registered for only four years from the date of release or after conviction, after which their names are expunged.
The bill sponsors were joined in support by their colleagues, along with other elected officials and community groups.
“As we expand our City’s efforts to reduce gun violence and make New York a safer place to live, all New Yorkers should be assured that they will have access to up-to-date information that will assist them in protecting their families,” Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson (D-Bronx, 16th CD), chair of the Council’s Public Safety, said. “Ensuring access to accurate information about convicted gun offenders, this legislation is a creative approach to enhancing the array of options available to every New Yorker as we join together to combat gun violence.”
“By making the existing gun offender registry public we are telling these criminals that they are no longer just being watched by the police, but by everyone. I am confident that this step will help fight the increased gun violence I have seen in my district and act as a safety measure for families concerned about their safety in their own neighborhoods. We must be willing to work together, with our fellow elected officials, the police department and community organizations to ensure that our neighbors are able to access this resource. Together we will show that gun violence is not tolerated in our community and never will be,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen (D-Bronx).
“New York residents deserve access to any information that will help them lead safer lives and give them the tools to better protect their families. By allowing for community access and mandating community notification to the City’s gun offender registry we will give our citizens the knowledge they need to make smart choices. I stand with my colleagues in government in fighting for this vital piece of legislation,” said State Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester).
Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) said, “Incidents of gun-related violence continue to occur far too frequently in New York and across the United States, and we have a responsibility to fight to prevent these tragedies through a range of smart, sensible policies. That’s why I support the effort to establish a public registry for gun offenders in New York City, which would inform neighbors about potential crime in their community, and why I am a proud co-sponsor of legislation to create a similar gun offender registry across New York State. We cannot afford to wait any longer to provide our communities with information that would improve their safety and well-being.”
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Director Leah Barrett said, “Because we lack strong federal gun laws, New Yorkers suffer from illegal guns that flow into our communities from states with lax gun laws. As a result, our citizens are killed and maimed and public safety is compromised. New Yorkers have a right to know if a dangerous gun offender lives in their neighborhood. Keeping the spotlight on these individuals after they return to the community may help reduce the chances they will re-offend and it raises public awareness about the problem of illegal guns.”
Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair the City Council’s Sub-Committee on Libraries and sits on seven standing committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Environmental Protection, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.