Nassau gun owners would have to store their firearms in locked vaults or use other accessories to secure their guns under legislation introduced Tuesday by county Democratic legislators.
At a news conference in Mineola, sponsor Ellen Birnbaum (D-Great Neck) cited the increasing number of guns reported missing or stolen in the county.
Last year, there were 84 lost or stolen guns reported in Nassau, compared with 37 in 2014, according to figures from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services.
“These lost or stolen guns lead to tragic consequences,” Birnbaum said.
The measure, if passed, would allow the Nassau County Police Department to fine or arrest violators. First-time offenders would face fines of up to $250 and 15-days in jail for possession of an unsecured firearm.
If the unlocked gun is linked to a death or physical injury, the owner could be fined up to $1,000 or face up to a year in jail.
Gun owners also could use accessories such as pistol locks and cable locks that keep guns from being fired accidentally, Birnbaum said.
New York City, Westchester County, Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester and Saratoga Springs have similar safe storage laws, said Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of the group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.
“It is a public health and safety issue,” Barrett said, citing cases of teens using their parents’ handguns to commit suicide.
Matt Fernando, a spokesman for the Legislature’s Republican majority said attorneys were “reviewing and vetting” the measure before deciding whether to schedule the bill for a public hearing.
Fernando said the GOP has “some concerns” about whether state law pre-empts the county proposal, and that further research is required.
The state’s SAFE ACT, a package of gun-safety regulations signed into law by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2013, requires gun owners to “safely store” their firearms if they live in a household with a felon or someone who has been involuntarily committed due to mental health illness.
Barrett said the state’s requirement does not go far enough to ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of minors and thieves.
The National Rifle Association, the nation’s largest gun-rights lobbying group, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Birnbaum was joined at the news conference by Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams, Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin), Malverne Police Chief John Aresta, and advocates with New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.