I was thrilled when I learned that Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox and Albany Common Council Member Cathy Fahey held a press conference this morning to announce the city’s new firearm safe storage law, which went into effect on January 1. The law requires that firearms be locked and safely stored when not in the owner’s immediate possession or control.
This law is one of the first of its kind passed in New York State in more than a decade. It’s also a law that I would like to see passed at the State level.
This law is a version of my bill, A.53-A, also known as Nicholas’ Law, which passed in the Assembly last June but stalled in the Senate. The measure was named after 12-year-old Nicholas Naumkin, who was fatally shot in December 2010 at his friend’s home in Wilton, New York. Nicholas had been playing with his friend, who found his father’s unlocked and loaded handgun and shot Nicholas in the head.
Albany joins Rochester, Buffalo, Westchester County and New York City, which have existing safe storage laws.
Chief Cox, his department, the Albany common council and the city of Albany deserve a great deal of credit and praise for making this happen. I am also so pleased that the Albany police department will provide free gun locks at its headquarters and two police stations.
While education about the dangers of unintended access to loaded firearms is critical to preventing accidental injuries and death of children, we must also impose sanctions to hold individuals responsible when they don’t lock or store their guns when out of their possession.
Nicholas’s Law is reasonable and clear: if your gun is not on or near you, lock it up or put a lock on it. If you don’t, you’ll be held accountable with criminal penalties. That will be the case in Albany now and hopefully, someday soon, it will be enacted statewide.