Governor signs Phillips-sponsored gun control bill

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State Sen. Elaine Phillips said in a statement she supports similar gun control measures to ones she once voted against. (Photo courtesy of the office of Elaine Phillips)
State Sen. Elaine Phillips said in a statement she supports similar gun control measures to ones she once voted against. (Photo courtesy of the office of Elaine Phillips)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation mandating the removal of firearms from convicted domestic abusers on Tuesday. The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Elaine Phillips after she had once voted against gun control measures.

Previously, state law had prohibited only individuals with serious offenses and felonies from owning certain firearms. Domestic violence-related misdemeanor offenses like strangulation, assault and battery did not qualify.

It had also not mandated the removal of rifles and shotguns in order-of-protection cases, firearm license suspensions or mental health disqualifications.

Phillips, who said she was unable to attend the ceremony due to the “legislative session in Albany,” expressed confidence in the measure’s ability to “protect women, men and children from their abusers and prevent further tragedies.”

“Domestic violence victims are five times more likely to be killed when their abuser owns a firearm,” Phillips said in a statement. “By keeping firearms out of the hands of those who are convicted of domestic violence, we are protecting victims who are known to be at risk and will undoubtedly save numerous lives.”

The legislation passed 85-32 in the Assembly and 41-19 in the Senate.

Firearms were used in 25 domestic homicides in New York in 2016, with almost a quarter of all victims in state homicides having some sort of domestic relationship with the perpetrator, according to the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

FBI and state crime data also suggests that one woman in the U.S. is fatally shot by a current or former partner every 16 hours.

The legislation was one of many gun control measures Phillips suggested in early March, like stronger background checks, a bump stock and military-style assault weapon ban, classifying mass shootings as domestic terrorism and creating a “real and workable mechanism” to prevent certain people from getting firearms.

Phillips’ five steps are similar to the gun control proposals she chose not to initially support when, according to The New York Times, Democrats tried and failed to force the Republican majority to vote on gun control measures with a hostile amendment – attaching the proposals to an existing bill.

The measures called for longer background checks, the formation of an institution to study gun violence, giving courts the ability to prevent potentially violent people from buying guns and a ban on possession of bump stocks, according to The Times.

Cuomo backed the bill to remove firearms from convicted domestic abusers as part of his 2018 Women’s Agenda.

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