NEW YORK—The public could be given access to an online gun offender registry, similar to the sex offender registry, if City Council approves extending access outside of the NYPD.
The registry would provide photos, names, and addresses of people released from prison for gun-related offenses in the last four years. Eventually the registry could go statewide.
The NYPD currently uses a citywide gun offender registry, which was implemented under legislation sponsored by City Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. upon the request of Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2006.
It includes offenders who were convicted of illegal possession of a loaded handgun, possession of three or more illegal handguns, possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, possession of an assault weapon, and possession of a disguised firearm.
Vallone will introduce an amendment to existing legislation that would extend registry access to the public at today’s City Council stated meeting (Thursday, Aug. 22). If approved, Vallone said the legislation could come into law by January.
Vallone said he had also been working with other public officials to make the registry statewide.
“An informed public is a safe public,” Vallone said, speaking at a press conference on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
Recidivism and Violent Crime
Convicted gun offenders are more likely to be arrested for violent crimes, and four times more likely than other offenders to be arrested for murder, Vallone said.
Last year a dozen people were arrested for not complying with the requirements of the city’s gun offender registry, Vallone said. He said people on the registry were among some of the city’s most violent offenders.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. joined Vallone and other public officials at the press conference on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
In Diaz’s annual State of the Borough speech in February, he had proposed a statewide public registry of gun offenders. He said it was one of many innovative ways to curb gun violence in the city.
He said Vallone’s amendment would let the public find out who in their neighborhood was potentially dangerous, and who they should keep their children away from. “I think it would go a great way for preventative measures,” he said.
State Senator Jeff Klein, an original cosponsor of Megan’s Law in 1995, which led to the New York’s public sex offender registry, was also at the press conference. He said he was working to push gun registry legislation through the State Senate.
“We have to make sure we crack down on illegal guns. I think this is one way we can eliminate illegal guns in our city and our state,” he said.
Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito said the registry would provide people with information to keep their families safe.
“Our communities are plagued with gun violence,” she said.
Gun Offender Registry Requirements
Under current law, individuals convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree are required to register their current addresses, and personally report to the NYPD every six months.
Registration requirements continue for four years after offenders are released from prison. If an offender fails to tell the NYPD they have changed address, it is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in prison.
New York City was the first city in the nation to introduce a Gun Offender Registry Act, and was followed by Baltimore in 2007. Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New Orleans are other cities that have introduced registries, Vallone said.