A pink-clad assault rifle, six pen guns and a TEC-9 were just a few of the firearms obtained by Nassau County officials in a gun buyback program this month that procured 366 weapons in total, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said.
At a “Gun Sense” forum hosted by the League of Women Voters at the Port Washington Public Library last Thursday night, Singas provided attendees with a rundown on the state of the county in terms of gun legislation.
The buyback program was implemented by the county to get illegal guns off the streets. In this case, people brought their guns to a drop-off location in Uniondale and received money in return from the county. No questions were asked about the origins of the gun.
She said a number of the firearms they received had a defaced serial number, which is considered a telltale sign of illegal use.
Singas said the county had a decline of 108 violent crimes that involved the use of a firearm from 2016 to 2017. There were 204 crimes recorded for 2017.
She said there were 364 gun crimes in Suffolk County in 2017 and neighboring Queens had 932.
Singas created a school safety task force as a result of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla. She said when she was listening to news reports and her office was being briefed by law enforcement officials, it was upsetting for her to see that there were a lot of signs that were missed and that people knew information that they thought they couldn’t do anything about.
“We have to be prepared,” she said. “I never want to be in a position of waking up the next day and saying, “Wait a minute. What did we know about this shooter and when did we know it?”
The task force not only focuses on school safety but other locations that are considered soft targets such as shopping malls, movie theaters and sporting events.
The county’s fight against gun violence has also been aided by legislation passed on the state level.
Singas discussed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act that was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn. He calls the measure the toughest gun control law in the nation.
Some of the provisions included in the law are the expansion of the definition of an assault rifle, only allowing for the sale of magazines with a capacity of 10 rounds or less; requiring ammunition dealers to conduct background checks before a sale; requiring mental health professionals to report patients they deem likely to harm themselves or others; a universal background check provision; and requiring gun owners who live with a person convicted of a felony or domestic crime or have been involuntarily committed or under a protection order to lock their guns.
“We know that since the SAFE Act was passed the number of violent crimes committed with a firearm dropped by 1 to 2 percent and New York now has the lowest suicide rate of any state,” the district attorney said.
Singas said that this year has been tremendously productive with some incredible gun laws already being passed.
The state government passed an extreme risk protection which permits family members, law enforcement and school officials to seek a court order for a person who is considered likely to harm themselves or others to relinquish their firearms.
Other measures recently passed on the state level include preventing teachers from carrying a firearm on school property, a time extension on background checks and a bump stock ban.
Singas said that just this week the state Legislature passed the safe storage bill, which requires gun owners to keep their firearms in a locked cabinet if they have children in the home who are 16 years old or younger.
She said a large number of these common-sense gun proposals are not drawn on party lines and can make sense “whether you’re in the NRA or not in the NRA.”