U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Monday in Manhattan, holds a copy of...

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Monday in Manhattan, holds a copy of her office's report analyzing the initial results of last year's federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Credit: Ed Quinn

More than 250 people, including suspected gang members in New York and nationwide, have been charged with weapons offenses since the passage of a federal law in 2022 intended in part to foil gun-smuggling to New York, according to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and the Justice Department.

Law enforcement seized more than 120 weapons across the state as a result of those cases, according to a report released Monday by Gillibrand's office. 

Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act "the first significant gun safety legislation in decades."

Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), flanked by police and most of New York City's district attorneys at a news conference outside the Manhattan headquarters of the NYPD, said the legislation is aimed in part at the "iron pipeline"  of gun trafficking that carries firearms from the South into New York. Gillibrand first introduced a version of the bill in 2009, spurred by the death of a Brooklyn constituent, Nyasia Pryear-Yard, a cheerleader and college-bound honors student who was killed by a stray bullet at a dance party that year. 

Before the law, Gillibrand said, authorities relied on a “patchwork of weak, easily exploitable local statutes.”

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, most guns used in crimes in New York and recovered come from elsewhere, and more than a third come from just four states along the I-95 corridor: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia.

The 2022 law has been used to charge 207 defendants with firearms trafficking and 80 with straw-purchasing, or using a person without a criminal history to buy a gun for someone who has a history, according to the Justice Department. It provides for up to 15 years in federal prison for those crimes; previously, prosecutors had to use a statute prohibiting making false statements to a firearms dealer that rarely resulted in significant jail time.

Under the new law, these offenses also fall under the RICO Act, allowing investigators to target trafficking networks behind the straw buyers and to use wiretaps to do so. The law also closes what Gillibrand said were loopholes, including one that allowed dating partners convicted of domestic abuse to possess firearms.

Gillibrand’s report detailed cases included one where authorities in New York City arrested alleged traffickers from Columbus, Ohio, who were trying to sell more than 50 firearms — including 11 AR-15-style assault rifles — in the Bronx. In another, defendants were charged with firearms trafficking conspiracy after selling more than 50 guns to an NYPD undercover officer; one of the defendants bought guns from retailers in Virginia to sell in Brooklyn. In still another, an alleged trafficker was charged after selling 20 guns to an undercover officer in the Bronx. Authorities said she had purchased them in Florida.

According to the report, authorities nationwide have taken more than 1,300 guns from suspected traffickers under the law, including 190 AR-15-style semiautomatic firearms and 150 “ghost guns,” that lack serial numbers and are difficult to trace.

The law also provided $750 million in funding for mental and behavioral health services, including $100 million for New York State and nonprofits based here.

One of those organizations, Mineola-based Family and Children’s Association, is using a $247,921 grant to train Nassau County’s 55-and-older residents in what organization president Jeffrey Reynolds, in an interview, called mental health first aid.

“They’re learning to look for signs and symptoms of mental health distress in their peers and other people” and how to guide those in need to professional or peer care, Reynolds said.

The vast majority of people struggling with mental health issues are not violent, but some people who do commit violent acts are facing mental health issues, he said. “If we can get them into care sooner, maybe we can prevent them from harming themselves or harming someone else.”

Montauk dredging complete … Downtown Mineola development … American Thrift  Credit: Newsday

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Montauk dredging complete … Downtown Mineola development … American Thrift  Credit: Newsday

Updated 52 minutes ago Lattingtown house fire ... Roosevelt HS ROTC robotics ... NYS LI water quality grants ... Mets spring training

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