Cuomo Would Tighten State Law on Firearms

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo chose to make a new, tough proposal on domestic violence and guns the very first initiative in his 2018 State of the State Message this year. Under current law, judges issue orders of protection for alleged victims to protect them from harm after an arrest but before the case goes to court. Once an order is issued, defendants must turn in any licensed guns, that is, handguns, but they can continue to possess rifles and shotguns. Therefore, under the law, domestic abusers might not be able to shoot spouses at short range but could pick them off from a distance. That discrepancy makes no sense. 

The governor’s plan would change that. The proposal also adds certain misdemeanor offenses to the list of crimes for which all guns must be given to authorities. Weapons would be returned to their owners if a case were resolved in their favor. As the law stands now, certain assault and battery crimes and strangulation do not automatically result in the removal of weapons. If Mr. Cuomo’s idea becomes law, all domestic violence convictions would result in the loss of firearms. 

Statistics from domestic violence studies show that attacks are far more likely to be deadly when there is access by the abuser to firearms. There have also been many links between violent domestic attacks and other crimes, including mass shootings. The man who killed 26 people at a church in Sutherland, Tex., in November had beaten his wife and her child. The man who shot up a congressional baseball practice in June had a domestic violence record. In fact, more than half the perpetrators of mass shootings had shot a wife or girlfriend, according to gun-policy experts. Studies also show that the rate of homicides declines in cities and states that adopt strict gun laws.

Taking the guns away from those statistically most likely to use them to commit a violent crime will make everyone safer. It’s the obvious thing to do.