Hochul signs gun safety legislation

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Office of the Governor of New York via AP

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday signed legislation S.687/A.3998 to strengthen restrictions on imitation weapons, which can be used to commit crimes.

The new law makes imitation weapons easily identifiable, preventing them from being used to commit crimes and allowing law enforcement to identify a device as fake when assessing threats.

“My top priority as governor is keeping New Yorkers safe, and that means cracking down on devices used to commit crime,” Hochul said. “Restricting these realistic-looking devices will ensure misleading and potentially dangerous devices are off our streets, keeping kids, law enforcement and all New Yorkers safe.”

This new law strengthens existing restrictions on imitation weapons by clarifying that permissible imitation weapons must be easily identifiable: they cannot be black, blue, silver or aluminum, and must be colored white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, bright purple, or be made entirely of transparent or translucent materials.

While certain imitation weapons are prohibited by certain municipalities, like New York City, the governor said this new law will create consistency throughout the state.

She said limited common-sense exceptions for special use, such as imitation weapons used in theatrical productions, are permitted.

According to data released by the Office of the Attorney General, there have been at least 63 shootings in New York State as a result of individuals mistaking imitation weapons for real firearms, eight of which have resulted in fatalities, and hundreds of crimes have been committed in New York City with imitation weapons.

This month, Gov. Hochul announced a 93 percent increase use of the Red Flag Law by law enforcement as part of ongoing efforts to combat increased gun violence throughout the state.

In June, Hochul called an extraordinary session in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen and signed legislation to strengthen gun laws.

She also formed the Interstate Task Force on Illegal Guns, which has been successful in combatting the transportation of illegal guns across state lines.

State Sen. Brad Hoylman said, “Improperly designed imitation guns pose an unnecessary and indefensible risk to the lives of our children.

“Since 1994, there have been at least 63 shootings in New York State as a result of imitation weapons being mistaken for real firearms, at least eight of which were fatal,” he said. “From now on, however, toy guns in New York will no longer be mistaken for real weapons.

“I am elated that Gov. Hochul signed our bill with Assemblymember Abinanti to clarify the definition of an imitation weapon, requiring toy guns to be brightly colored or constructed entirely of transparent or translucent materials, and will protect the lives of our kids and police officers alike,” Hoylman added.

Assemblymember Tom Abinanti said, “Too many people have been killed or injured and too many crimes committed because a toy gun looked real.

“I applaud Gov. Kathy Hochul’s recognizing how this new law will make our communities safer by setting uniform statewide standards to ensure toy or imitation weapons are unmistakably an imitation or toy,” he said. “Real guns that are misused are a big problem – we don’t need the problem compounded by toy guns that look real.”

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