Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa), representative of the 116 Assembly “River” District, has drafted new legislation aimed at stiffer penalties for the killers of first responders and those who abet them.
Russell’s bill is designed to curb the killings of first responders and law enforcement officials. Recent cases include the murder of Mark Davis, an EMT who was killed while responding to an emergency call in Cape Vincent in 2009, and the Christmas Eve murders of firefighters in Webster. The law was named in honor of Davis.
The legislation, an extension of a bill promoted in the Senate last year by 48th District Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton), would add the killing of first responders to the definition of first-degree murder and aggravated murder.
“We all know that the people killing our innocent first responders, law enforcement officials, school children, teachers and even movie-goers – tend to be mentally unstable, including having homicidal tendencies,” Russell said. “It is time to not just deal with the aftermath, but to tackle the issue head on and enact policies that can actually prevent these crimes.”
It would also create a new crime, reckless use of a weapon, aimed at those who act recklessly in allowing the murderer access to the guns used in such crimes. The law would place the burden on firearms owners to prevent mentally unstable people from accessing them. A conviction under the new law would result in a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.
“For the vast majority of gun owners, this bill will not make us have to do anything differently in terms of how we take care of our guns,” Russell said. “This bill will send a message to reckless gun owners – if you do not keep your guns out of the hands of those that kill first responders, cops and kids, you will be facing 15 years in prison.”
“It is a fact that we can never really regulate every way to prevent someone from killing, but as gun owners we should take steps to ensure these murderers do not use our guns to commit the crime. The threat of prosecution will make all of us rethink how we take care of our guns, and who we allow to have access to them,” she said.
The bill would also limit the amount of information the public can access on pistol permit holders to name and county of residence only.
“Limiting the amount of information available about pistol permit holders will help law abiding gun owners keep themselves safe from would-be criminals, by not advertising or allowing easy access to directions to their homes and thus the locations of their guns,” Russell said.
Meanwhile in the Senate as of Friday, seven lawmakers had signed on to co-sponsor Ritchie’s bill, which includes changes to the original bill proposed by the Assembly sponsor, Russell, last year. In addition, an online petition where the public can show their support for Mark’s Law has reached more than 2,000 signatures, Ritchie reports.
“I am so pleased to have the backing of my colleagues who represent people from across the state as well as the support of thousands who have signed my Mark’s Law petition,” said Ritchie.
Russell’s district includes the St. Lawrence County towns along the St. Lawrence River along with Ogdensburg, Canton, Potsdam, Rossie, Macomb and DePeyster, as well as sections of northern Jefferson County.
Ritchie’s Senate district includes western St. Lawrence County townships, and Jefferson and Oswego counties.