Thank You Governor Cuomo

Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke this morning about prioritizing my domestic violence gun bill. I am very grateful for his interest in this issue. I issued the following statement as a response.

While we lead in New York with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and the lowest firearm homicide rates, domestic violence victims in our state are still in grave danger because legal protections for their safety come up short.

Here in New York, a gray area in between state and federal laws allows some convicted domestic violence offenders to retain access to firearms. While federal law stipulates that someone found guilty of a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge cannot possess any firearms, state law is not consistent.

In other words, a person who is found guilty of a crime that results in him not being able to buy or own a gun under federal law can keep the one he already possessed under New York law.

My legislation would outline an unambiguous legal procedure, provide uniformity in the courts, and ensure that abusers cannot keep the guns they are prohibited from possessing.

As a result of the most recent shootings in California, Las Vegas and Texas, we have come to face the fact that no New Yorker is safe from the lethal rage of an armed domestic abuser, even those with no relationship to his victims.

We must work together to find ways to combat domestic violence and reduce the danger that perpetrators pose to victims and communities alike by enacting common-sense solutions that will save lives.

I want to thank Governor Cuomo for prioritizing my legislation and working towards protecting all New Yorkers from the epidemic of gun violence.

Continuing The Fight Against Human Trafficking

I am proud to announce that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation (Chapter 408) I authored into law on Friday. The law requires hospitals, public health centers, diagnostic centers, treatment centers and outpatient departments to establish and implement written policies and procedures for the identification, assessment and treatment/referral of persons suspected as human trafficking victims. Additionally, the law requires that specified personnel in the service units of these facilities complete training regarding these policies and procedures.

According to Dr. Douglas Chin, director of outreach for Physicians Against the Trafficking of Humans (PATH), 87 percent of trafficking victims have had contact with a healthcare provider while being trafficked. Nevertheless, fewer than 10 percent of doctors recognize trafficking victims and fewer than three percent of ER doctors have received training in recognition and action. ff54a7fdac723e5b09b936d18c3c868b

With appropriate training, the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who are the most likely to come in contact with a potential victim will be able to recognize the signs that indicate the person seeking treatment may be a human trafficking victim. They will also be able to refer the victim so that she can get specialized services and escape her life of violence and enslavement. Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry and nearly 300,000 children, some as young as ages 11 and 12, are at risk of becoming sexually exploited. This is happening right here, in our state, in our backyards.  We need to continue to do all that we can to help bring an end to this deplorable practice of selling people, particularly children, for sex.

The Polaris Project, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that works to combat and prevent modern-day slavery and human trafficking, used data collected by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline and determined that between 2001 and 2012 New York, California, Texas and Florida received the most potential reports of human trafficking. New York City was identified as a hub for human trafficking.