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Assemb. Charles Lavine: Ban firearms after hate crime convictions

New York State Assemb. Charles Lavine unveiled legislation

New York State Assemb. Charles Lavine unveiled legislation that would prohibit any individual convicted of a hate crime from possessing a firearm. Photo Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Assemb. Charles Lavine unveiled legislation Monday that would prohibit any individual convicted of a hate crime from possessing a firearm.

Lavine (D-Glen Cove) introduced an amendment to the state’s Secure Ammunition and Fire Arms Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act, on Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Merillon Avenue Long Island Rail Road station.

In 1993, LIRR passenger Colin Ferguson gunned down six people and wounded 19 others as a train pulled into the Merillon Avenue station.

Lavine, who is running for Nassau County executive, said the bill is necessary because hate crimes have spiked since the 2016 presidential campaign and the election of Republican Donald Trump.

“This is a crisis not just in New York State or the metropolitan region,” Lavine said. “This is a national crisis.”

Lavine’s legislation would add felony and misdemeanor hate crimes to the list of “serious offenses” in state penal law that disqualify individuals from possessing firearms.

A Senate version of the bill has been introduced by Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn). If enacted, the legislation would take effect in November.

Similar bills have been passed in Minnesota, Oregon and New Jersey.

“This should already have been done many years ago,” said Rita Kestenbaum, a former Hempstead Town Board member whose daughter, Carol, was murdered while a student at the University of Arizona in 2007.

Nassau County Legis. Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) said the measure provides the “balance” needed to protect Second Amendment rights and provide public safety.

“Someone who has a propensity for hate crimes should never carry a weapon,” Drucker said. “We’re only asking for trouble. It’s giving them a match to light the fire.”

While hate crimes have increased in New York City and across the nation, police statistics show they declined last year on Long Island.

Nassau police say they received 59 hate crime reports in 2016, compared with 62 in 2015. Police in Suffolk County reported 42 hate crimes last year, compared with 69 in 2015.

The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Lavine’s measure.

A spokesman for the GOP-led Senate majority did not respond to a request for comment.

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