Long Island gun enthusiasts and store owners described firearm regulations passed by the State Legislature Tuesday as “grandstanding,” saying the new rules wouldn’t stop lawbreakers but would “create more victims” among law abiders.
“I think they’re trying to legislate away bad people and I think it’s a deeper issue than that,” said Craig Gresh, a Patchogue-based firearms instructor who trains State Police and other law enforcement officers.
The Legislature passed several measures Tuesday, including a “red-flag” bill that would take guns away from legal gun owners who judges determine are mentally ill. The package would also extend the potential waiting period for buying a gun up to 30 days, ban the arming of teachers and prohibit “bump stocks,” which can allow a rifle’s trigger to be pulled fast to shoot many bullets in seconds.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said he will sign the bills into law.
Long Island gun users ridiculed the proposed bump stock ban, saying they could get the same rapid firing result on semi-automatic rifles by using a heavy rubber band.
Citing the cookware sometimes used in bombs, Jason Ciano, 25, a Levittown car insurance analyst, asked, “Should pressure cookers be banned?”
Long Islanders reserved their main concerns for the “red-flag” provision, with several saying the provision makes sense, but they want to know how gun owners would get due process and how to prevent people from falsely accusing their enemies.
“We’re going to have to find the fine print,” said Stanley L. Rachelle, co-owner of Empire State Firearms in Port Jefferson Station.
A gun owner can appeal if he or she is deemed to be mentally ill.
As lawmakers approved the bills, Long Islanders pitched their own ideas for gun reform. Rachelle, for example, suggested harsher penalties for violations of existing gun laws while Gresh called for full background checks but no prescribed waiting periods.
Deer hunter Jorge Cea, speaking at the Nassau County shooting range in Uniondale, said he has to undergo fingerprint and background checks every two years because of his work with hazardous materials but only needs to pass a background check for a gun once. He said gun owners should be required to go through training and have their backgrounds checked every few years.
“You should be able to show some sort of proficiency,” said Cea, 40, of Uniondale.
Gresh thinks licensed gun owners should carry insurance, just like drivers.
He questioned why Cuomo and other lawmakers haven’t created a panel of gun users and trainers to get their ideas.
“I think some politicians think they know everything,” the firearms instructor said. “It’s sad. I wonder if it’s self-serving for votes rather than truly for the community.”