New York State Proposes Donna's Law
A.11121 is sponsored by Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, and co-sponsored by Jeffrey Dinowitz, Fred Abinanti, Richard Gottfried, Assemblywoman Fahy, Rebecca Seawright, Assemblyman Englebright and Assemblyman Dickens. It would amend the state Executive Law and give the New York State Police the responsibility to develop and maintain the registry.
If approved, anyone would be able to file a voluntary waiver of their right to purchase a gun. The State Police would then request photo identification to verify the person’s identity before accepting the form. Waivers would include an alternate individual to be contacted if the waiver is revoked.
No sooner than 21 days after filing a waiver, an individual would be able to file a recovation of their waiver.
Waivers would not be able to be required as a condition of employment or for benefits or services. The proposed law also states no records required by the registry law would be subject to disclosure and would remain confidential for matters of health care, employment, education, housing, insurance, government benefits and contracting.
According to Paulin’s legislative justification, the legislation is a response to increasing gun violence in New York, particularly suicides, which according to Centers for Disease Control statistics, account for two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States. The bill is based on a Wall Street Journal op/ed by Frederick Vars and Ian Ayres titled “Suicide Accounts for Most Gun Deaths. A Libertarian Approach Could Help.”
“A registry of individuals who voluntarily waive their rights to purchase firearms, rifles and shotguns can have an impact on all these sobering statistics,” Paulin wrote in her legislative justification. “Essentially, it is allowing people to create a self-imposed pause, similar to a waiting period.””
Washington and Virginia have recently enacted legislation, and nine other states, including Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, have introduced similar bills in the legislatures. Vars and Ayres have conducted research and published numerous articles supporting this proposal, including a survey where 46 percent of 200 psychiatric patients in Alabama indicated that they would sign up for a version of the registry if given the opportunity.
“In conclusion, we are in a pandemic that has seen millions of Americans suffering in a myriad of ways,” Paulin wrote. “New York state should enact this bill to create a registry that will allow people the opportunity to voluntarily take steps to protect themselves from themselves. Creating an option for people to ban themselves from purchasing firearms, rifles and shot- guns has the potential to save them from hurting themselves and from hurting others.”