Nassau lawmakers split on gun-crime registry
A bill introduced last week by Democrats in the Nassau County Legislature would create an online database of all individuals convicted of gun-related crimes, including the offender's photo, home address and employer.
But Republicans in the legislative majority said they will not call a vote on the bill because they say Nassau does not have jurisdiction over gun laws.
The Nassau County Gun Offenders Registration Act would require defendants convicted of offenses involving a firearm to register their information with county police and to keep the data updated for four years.
The bill mirrors similar gun-offender registries that have been in place in New York City since 2006 and in Suffolk County since 2011.
The gun-offender database, unlike the state's sex-offender registry, would not be public. Information in the gun-offender registry would be available only to law-enforcement agencies, who would have the authority to determine if any of the data should be made public.
Police also could make the registry available to schools or universities that the offender attends.
Legislative Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the bill's lead sponsor, said he wants to provide law enforcement with the tools to monitor those most likely to commit violent gun crimes.
"Gun violence has been escalating in my district for decades," said Abrahams, a candidate to replace retiring Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, one of Congress' leading gun control advocates. "This would have a significant impact in my community and in the rest of the county."
Proponents of the gun-offender registries note that individuals convicted of gun possession have higher rates of recidivism -- particularly involving violent crimes -- than other felons.
But critics, such as the National Rifle Association, said they support enforcing existing gun laws rather than creating new databases. The NRA did not respond to a request for comment on Nassau's bill.
Nassau's gun-offender registry would include the subject's name, date of birth, sex, race, height, weight, eye color, driver's license number, home address, a description of past gun-related crimes, place of employment and any school he or she may be attending. A set of fingerprints and a photograph, updated regularly, also would be kept in the database.
Offenders would be required to pay an annual fee of $100 and to update their personal information every six months with the police department. Failure to register or keep the data updated would be punishable by a $1,000 fine and 1 year in jail.
The law would not apply to individuals convicted of gun crimes outside the county.
Nassau Police spokesman Kenneth Lack declined to comment about the bill.
Frank Moroney, a GOP legislative spokesman, said a December 2010 Appellate Court ruling requires that firearm-related regulations be passed exclusively by the State Legislature. "The county does not have jurisdiction here," Moroney said.
But David Gugerty, chief of staff to legislative Democrats, said the court case cited by Moroney applies only to the issuance of gun permits.
Nassau spokesman Brian Nevin said County Executive Edward Mangano would review the proposal.