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NYS requires out-of-state buyers of firearms to submit to background checks

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in August.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in August. Credit: Charles Eckert

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature on Tuesday closed two loopholes in some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation.

One new law will require out-of-state buyers of firearms to submit to mental health background checks as required of all New Yorkers. Another will allow police to check immediately at the scene of a call whether they may face a suspect with access to a gun.

Cuomo signed both bills into law Tuesday.

The first bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), requires applicants for firearms licenses in New York who live outside the state to sign a waiver of confidentiality to release any mental health records. State residents already are subject to background criminal and mental health checks. The new measure is intended to address concerns about sales to out-of-state residents near the state line and to purchases by seasonal residents.

“This bill closes a dangerous loophole in our gun license background check process, ensuring that part-time New York residents buying a gun receive the same thorough review as full-time residents,” Kaplan said.

The companion bill amends a 2013 law that said individual firearms licenses and pistol permits are not public records, according to the bill sponsored by Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx) and Assemb. Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale). In practice, Paulin said, the law created a delay for police, especially at night and on weekends when they sought to determine if legally owned guns were involved in responding to domestic violence calls and other emergencies.

Biaggi said now “when a local officer responds to a situation, particularly in cases of domestic violence, they know whether or not they are entering a home where a firearm is present.”

Even after police obtain the record, the gun ownership record won’t be public, according to the law.

“These measures continue to build on our nation-leading gun laws by helping keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and providing law enforcement with the tools and knowledge they need to keep our communities safe from situations that may involve a deadly firearm,” Cuomo said Tuesday. 

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