August 10, 2020

Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act.  The New York State Senate recently passed the Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act, a proposed law that would prohibit the sale of “ghost guns” in New York.  “Ghost Guns” are firearms that are referred to as “untraceable” because they lack serial numbers and are often built from plastics or other materials, and in many cases have components that can be fabricated with a 3D printer.  The Jose Webster Untraceable Firearms Act seeks to criminalize the sale, and possession of, so-called “ghost guns” and would require gunsmiths to serialize and register with State Police any firearms, rifles, shotguns, and unfinished frames or receivers that they assemble, manufacture, or build.  Generally, under the proposed law, a person that sells a single ghost gun is guilty of the Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Third Degree; a person that sells five or more “ghost guns” (either in a single sale or within a year) is guilty of the Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the Second Degree; and, a person that sells or exchanges ten or more “ghost guns” (either in a single sale or within a year) is guilty of the Criminal Sale of a Firearm in the First Degree.  Although the bill passed the State Senate, it has yet to pass the State Assembly.  Given the supermajority that Democrats hold in the State Assembly, there is a strong likelihood that the bill will be passed.  If it passes the Assembly, then it will be delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo to either sign it into law or issue a veto.  Banning “ghost guns” has been on Governor Cuomo’s agenda since he announced his State of the State agenda in January 2020 and there is little doubt that he will sign the bill into law should it pass the State Assembly and be delivered to his desk.     

Daily News v. New York City Police Dep’t, et al.  In response to a lawsuit filed against the NYPD by the Daily News, Judge Arthur Engoron of the New York Supreme Court recently issued an Order compelling the NYPD to release to the Daily News the full names, residence, zip codes, and license type of all individuals who were issued a firearm license or renewal in 2018, with the exception that the names of law enforcement members may be withheld.  Prior to the Daily News filing its lawsuit, the NYPD responded to the Daily News’ request for disclosure by providing only 132 names of individuals who were granted firearms licenses in 2018 but were denied an exemption under the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (the “SAFE Act”), which, in pertinent part, allows firearms licensees to request an exemption from public disclosure of their firearm license application.  However, the NYPD declined to disclose any additional information arguing that the disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy under the N.Y. Public Officers Law and citing operational difficulty.  Judge Engoron held that NYPD’s refusal to provide the requested information was a violation of the Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”).  The Court ordered the NYPD to submit the name, license category, and zip code of all persons who were licensed during the 2018 calendar year.  However, the Court did agree with the NYPD that it may withhold the names of law enforcement members under the N.Y. Public Officers Law. 

Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor firearm related news and events in New York, and around the country.  If you have any questions concerning firearms related legislation, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.