New York Bill passed to confiscate guns for domestic-violence misdemeanors

New York gun owners convicted of misdemeanors in domestic-violence cases would have their firearms taken away under a bill lawmakers approved along with the new state budget.

Convicted felons already are barred from gun ownership in the state. The new bill, promoted by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, would strip guns from people convicted of misdemeanor counts of assault, menacing, criminal contempt, unlawful imprisonment, aggravated harassment and similar charges if the victims are members of their family or their household.  

The bill, which was swiftly approved Friday along with general budget legislation, also clarifies that long guns, as well as handguns, are to be surrendered for felony convictions, serious criminal convictions and matters involving orders of protection, along with now misdemeanor domestic-violence convictions. The bill’s authors said existing laws had left unclear when rifles and shotguns were to be taken.

Gun owners will have the right to a hearing to challenge orders to surrender weapons, though guns can be confiscated taken and held before such hearings occur.

Early this year, Cuomo talked up the need for such a law, pointing out that the shooters in many of the deadliest mass shootings in recent U.S. history had an existing record of violence against women, threatening violence against women, or harassing or disparaging women. In 2016, firearms were used in 25 domestic homicides in New York, according to the governor’s office.

“Domestic violence is one of the main indicators of the potential for deadly use of weapons,” said Paul McQuillen of Hamburg, upstate coordinator for the group New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “To be honest, I don’t think anybody is a supporter of allowing an individual who is capable of misdemeanor domestic violence to have access to a weapon. Anybody who is capable of engaging in domestic violence is certainly capable of escalating that.”

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