Torres and gun safety advocates announce new federal push to limit phantom guns – Bronx Times

After a ghost gun was used in the recent shooting death of a teenager in Mott Haven, a Bronx lawmaker is ready to act federally.

U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres was joined by Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, gun safety advocates and violence healing groups, on 15 April, when he announced new federal legislation that would allow individuals and families affected by ghost guns to sue manufacturers. This year, the NYPD has already removed 34 ghost guns from the streets of the Bronx.

The legislation comes in response to recent high-profile shootings in the Bronx, where Angellyh Yambo, 16, was murdered on April 9 by stray bullets at the corner of East 156th Street and Saint Ann Avenue, and in brooklyn where Frank James allegedly fired into a subway, injuring 23 people, 10 of whom were shot. The legislation also aims to address the increase in gun violence in New York and the United States.

While there are bills that repeal the Bush-era law that granted gun manufacturers immunity from civil suits, none extend to manufacturers of partially assembled or partially assembled guns. of unnumbered guns and gun parts, also known as ghost guns.

A privately assembled and untraceable firearm, ghost guns do not have a unique serial number engraved by a licensed manufacturer or importer. In 2021, 20,000 ghost weapons were recovered by law enforcement in criminal investigations across the United States, a tenfold increase since 2016. Torres’ legislation would like to removing the liability shield on manufacturers who produce any component of a ghost weapon, allowing victims of gun violence and their families a private right of action.

Frank James smiles as he is loaded into a police cruiser at the East Village 9th Precinct on April 13. Photo Dean Moses

“The epidemic of gun violence is out of control and it’s too glaring a crisis to ignore,” Torres said. “In the past week alone, there have been several fatal cases of gun violence across New York City, including the death of a 16-year-old girl in the Bronx and several serious injuries during the terrorist attack in Brooklyn. These recent shootings are not isolated cases. We have seen a substantial increase in gun violence in New York and the United States over the past year, and it is high time to adopt a federal legislation that addresses the proliferation of untraceable firearms throughout the country.

According to NYPD data, there have been 1,207 firearm arrests since the start of 2020 and a 16% increase in shootings between March 2021 and 2022.

According to a Everytown for Gun Safety report, the rise of phantom guns is the fastest growing gun safety issue in the nation. The report found that 68% of existing online sellers today started selling ghost gun parts after 2014. Sellers provide all the parts needed for a working ghost gun and claim that key ghost gun parts can be manufactured in as little as 15 minutes, often at prices below assembled firearms sold at retail.

Life has become a nightmare for Bronx residents, and the hope is that the legislation will get more guns off the streets and help people be safer, Torres said.

“It shouldn’t take gun violence and death in our communities to pass gun safety legislation that allows victims to hold manufacturers accountable,” Torres said. “I am proud to introduce a long-awaited bill that will allow victims and their families to seek justice in civil court. I hope Congress will move quickly to pass this important bill.

Clark, the Bronx District Attorney, is becoming more accustomed to attending vigils and rallies after Bronxites die of senseless gun violence. Clark praised Torres for his legislation and added that children love Yambo shouldn’t have to die on the way home from school, she said.

“As we stand on 161st Street, I don’t see any stores where you can buy guns,” Clark said. “We can have laws, but we have to stop the flow of guns.”

Among the gun safety advocates at the press conference were Save Our Streets (SOS), which operates in Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and the Bronx neighborhoods of Mott Haven and Morrisania.

Marisol Rivera, a violence switcher with SOS, pointed out that the gun isn’t their only option. Children need to know they can do more than commit crimes, she said.

“Don’t let a short-term fix change your life forever,” Rivera said. “Our babies are dying. We should be upset. We have to do better.”

Marisol Rivera, a violence switch with SOS, said the incessant shooting had to stop.

In October 2021 Governor Kathy Hochul banned ghost guns as well as the making or possession of so-called “toy guns” — real weapons designed to look like a child’s toy — and sign a bill that criminalizes the possession of unfinished firearm frames and receivers by anyone other than a licensed gunsmith.

On April 11, President Joe Biden announces that the US Department of Justice has issued a final rule to curb the proliferation of phantom weapons. This final rule prohibits the business of making the most accessible ghost guns, such as unserialized “buy build shoot” kits that individuals can purchase online or in a store without background checks and can easily be assembled into a weapon functional in as little as 30 minutes. with the equipment they have at home. This rule also clarifies that these kits are considered “firearms” under gun control law.

The final rule will also help turn some phantom guns already in circulation into serialized firearms. Through this rule, the Department of Justice requires federally licensed dealers and gunsmiths to take any firearm without a serial number from inventory to serialize that gun.

Contact Jason Cohen at [email protected] or (718) 260-4598. For more coverage follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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