New York has historically been one of the toughest states on gun control, so it should come as no surprise Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed three bills to “combat the gun violence epidemic” and “address the scourge of ghost guns.” Included in the legislation package were the “Scott J. Beigel unfinished receiver act” (NY S13A) and “Jose Webster untraceable firearms act” (NY S14A) relating to ghost guns, and NY S7152, which redefines “disguised gun” to include toy guns.
Named after Scott Biegel, a teacher killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, NY S13A prohibits the possession of unfinished frames and receivers by persons other than licensed gunsmiths with violations classified as felonies. This despite the firearm used in the Parkland shooting not being a ghost gun nor having been purchased illegally.
Meanwhile, NY S14A doubles down, also criminalizing the possession and sale of a ghost gun by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith and requiring gunsmiths to register and serialize firearms, rifles, shotguns and unfinished frames or receivers they assemble, with violations classified as felonies. Jose Webster was shot and killed in the Bronx in 2011 by multiple guns, but charges were not brought against his killers until 2018 and no guns were seemingly ever found.
Tacked onto the two ghost gun bills, NY S7152 amends the term “disguised gun” to include any rifle, pistol, shotgun or machine-gun resembling a toy gun and prohibiting their design, manufacture or possession. Such intentional design changes include altering or concealing the original color or surface of the gun.
Sponsored by state Democrats Anna Kaplan, Brad Hoylman and John Brooks, respectively, the bills are part of the Hochul administration’s continued “crack down on the distribution and possession of dangerous weapons” in an aggressive attempt to “end to the gun violence epidemic” in the city, which has seen shooting incidents already surpass last year’s total. However, the latest bills target firearms rarely used in crimes or seized by police.
In 2019, ghost guns made up only 1.2% of over 11,200 firearms seized in Chicago and 2.2% of 4,200 firearms seized in Philadelphia. And as of last month, New York had seized just 135 total supposed ghost guns in 2021, thus far.
The bills themselves do little to support their justification either, with NY S7152 going as far as to note “the current number of reported cases of such guns are not numerous.” Yet, Empire State politicians, backed by gun control advocacy groups, continue to push their agenda despite lacking significant data to back their claims.