Bill would allow online publication of NYPD's ex-con gun registry

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The NYPD's in-house registry of ex-cons convicted of gun crimes would go public under a City Council bill introduced Thursday.

Under the legislation, an offender's name, photograph, street, crime and sentence would go on the Web and be available in a regular email alert for which the public could sign up.

Supporters say the legislation, the Gun Offender Registry Act, would foster transparency and discourage firearm violence, but critics worry it could fuel recidivism by further stigmatizing marginalized people. Council member Costa Constantinides (D-Queens) sponsored the legislation.

The bill, modeled after ubiquitous sex-offender registries, mirrors past legislation that failed in New York City.

"We're not apologetic here," said Rubén Díaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, who supports the bill. "If you don't want to be stigmatized, and if you are afraid that you may not get a job, then just don't use a gun. Don't shoot somebody. Don't rob somebody."

Glenn Martin, head of the advocacy group JustLeadershipUSA, said publicizing the gun-offender registry would be counterproductive and encourage employers and landlords to deny jobs and housing.

"It's ridiculous," Martin said.

He noted that the use of most background checks is regulated, but that the gun-offender database would offer no such protections.

Díaz conceded he doesn't have evidence -- yet -- that publicizing the database would reduce gun crime. But he said it is being tried in other parts of the country and "in the case of pedophiles."

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A sunset clause excludes offenders after four years.

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who supported the past version of the bill, said Thursday she didn't yet have a position on the new one. Because she controls the flow of legislation, her support is critical to its success.

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