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Velázquez measure would tax guns, penalize owners who don't report thefts

Rep. Nydia Velazquez is seen in this undated

Rep. Nydia Velazquez is seen in this undated photo. Credit: Getty Images/Thos Robinson

A $100-per-firearm federal sales tax would help stem the flow of illegal weapons into New York, reducing the number of gun-related deaths such as those of the four NYPD officers killed in the past year, Rep. Nydia Velázquez said Monday.

The sales tax -- which would generate millions of dollars in revenue to fund community-based anti-violence programs -- is among measures in the legislation that the Democrat planned to introduce in Congress this week.

Velázquez's bill also proposes a national database for lost guns and a partnership between the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Institute for Standards and Technology to come up with new ways to pinpoint the origin of a gun. She is seeking to require that owners report their firearms stolen within 48 hours or face a $10,000-per-violation penalty if the weapon is used in a crime.

"This will help identify patterns of straw purchasers who feed this unending flow of weapons," Velázquez, who represents parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, said at City Hall. "The time has come to move past serial numbers that are often scrapped off, preventing authorities from carrying out justice."

Legislation co-sponsor Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) called for critics of gun laws to wake from their "Second Amendment addiction slumber."

Asked how she will win the support of Republicans in a gridlocked Congress, Velázquez said she believes public outcry will help.

The legislation is endorsed by three of the city's five district attorneys -- Brooklyn's Kenneth Thompson, Queens' Richard A. Brown and Manhattan's Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

Thompson said three of the four deaths of NYPD officers -- Brian Moore, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos -- in recent months have involved an illegal gun that originated in Georgia. The gun believed to have been used in the Oct. 20 death of Officer Randolph Holder is undergoing testing, he said.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Public Advocate Letitia James and City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer were at the news conference -- alongside mothers who have lost their children to gun violence -- to show their support.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said he supports the bill.


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