A Hudson Valley assemblywoman has introduced legislation to prevent people on the terror watch list from purchasing guns in New York. The head of a state gun advocacy group says legislators are missing the mark.
New York Assemblywoman Amy Paulin’s bill aims to provide the FBI will additional time to conduct a background check. Paulin says discussions with FBI personnel at the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, Section indicate that extending the time for a background check for purchases of guns, rifles and shotguns from three to 10 business days would help achieve a more thorough investigation.
“As soon as you’re cleared, you get the gun. It just gives more time for that investigation,” Paulin says. “So, in other words, if your name is put in and nothing pops and there’s no indicator that would prevent you from getting a gun, you get it on the spot, and there’s nothing that would change that.”
The Scarsdale Democrat anticipates opposition.
“There’s no bill that you put in that the organized gun owners, I wouldn’t say individual gun owners because I get a lot of support from individual gun owners, but the organized gun owners, they’re going to oppose it because even if it’s a good idea, they’re going to claim slippery slope, if you do one bill that restricts or limits gun ownership in any way, even if it’s a great idea, it’s a slippery slope,” says Paulin. So I anticipate a negative.”
Tom King is president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association.
“We want an appeal process so that if, actually due process so that if someone is on the list erroneously they have an avenue to remove themselves from that list. That’s all we’re asking for. And nobody seems to want to do that,” says King. “Until that happens we have to oppose all of this legislation.”
Paulin says that when the FBI conducts a NICS background check, it checks the terror watch list. However, the FBI cannot prevent someone in New York from buying a gun on the sole basis that the buyer is on this list. The FBI also is not authorized, without a change at the federal level, to reveal that a proposed buyer is even on the list. Paulin says extending the time for a background check will flag others who should not own guns, such as domestic violence offenders.
“So that’s the kind of thing that they’re looking to prevent,” says Paulin. “Never mind the fact that if they’re not a terrorist and they simply have committed a misdemeanor domestic violence, we’d still want to capture them so that they didn’t get a gun. So it serves a lot of important needs.”
“The terrorist watch list is not going to be populated by people who are involved with domestic violence,” King says.
Paulin’s bill has nine co-sponsors and one multi-sponsor, all Democrats. She is working on finding a Senate sponsor. Executive Director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Leah Gunn Barrett holds little hope that Paulin’s bill will find traction in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“I don’t think that they’re going to take up any gun bills right now,” says Barrett. “I think it’s a shame. They’re showing lack of leadership in this area.”
A Senate GOP spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment in time for this broadcast. Again, Barrett.
“We’re talking about keeping guns out of the hands of people who are most likely the most dangerous people in our society,” says Barrett. “And if you can’t take action on that, then that’s pretty pathetic.”
Earlier this year, Westchester County Assemblyman Tom Abinanti introduced legislation to prohibit people named on the FBI’s No-Fly List from obtaining or renewing a license to carry firearms. Paulin says her bill targets the same population as in Abinanti’s bill, but with a different approach. Abinanti says the No-Fly List falls under the federal government’s terrorism watch list, which is maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center within the FBI. Individuals who are suspected or known terrorists are placed on the list. Abinanti, a Democrat, contends the terror watch list is not always up to date and wants a separate FBI list, the no fly list, made available to New York state to close a gap.