November 26, 2021

New gun storage measure takes effect in New York state

Lock ’em up

Shenandoah Briere/Staff Reporter

Michael Bidwell a private investigator in Cortland unloads his .38 Special, a revolver, in front of his gun safe. The state recently implemented new gun storage laws.

Private investigator Michael Bidwell took his .38 special, a revolver, off his hip, kneeled in front of his gun safe and removed the ammunition. He secured the unloaded gun in the holster, put the rounds back in the box and shut the safe.

Bidwell would usually recommend storing guns away from ammunition, but because it’s the gun he’s likely to leave the house with, he stores its ammunition there. However, the several rifles he has are kept in another case that’s locked and in another room.

“Education is key” to gun safety, he said.

Safety recommendations

  • Take a gun safety course.
  • Talk to children about gun safety.
  • Lock ammunition and guns away from each other.
  • Unload a gun when storing it.
  • Always consider a gun loaded even if it isn’t.

The state adopted the law in July — Assembly Member Barbara Lifton (D- Ithaca) voted yes, Sen. James Seward (R-Milford) voted no — to implement new requirements for gun storage in late September, Cortland County Clerk Elizabeth Larkin said.

Firearms must be stored using a gun-locking device or in a safe and cannot “be left outside the immediate possession and control of the owner or other lawful owner if a child resides in the home or is present,” states the notice of the law — child meaning anyone under 16 who does not have a valid hunting license or permit. The new law also applies in instances where there are guns in a house or in the presence of someone who is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Convictions for violations can bring a year in prison, three years probation and a $1,000 fine.

If the weapon isn’t secure while a child is visiting, the gun owner could face a violation charge and $250 fine.

The law was adopted at the same time a law banning the manufacture, sale or possession of guns that cannot be detected by a metal detector, and about the same time the state banned bump stocks, devices that allow semiautomatic weapons to be fired nearly as fast as automatic weapons.

“I’m all for protecting children,” Bidwell said. “I see that as common sense.”

However, he also said it is also a constitutional right for people to bear arms and the state continues to nitpick at that right.

He said he supports the basis of most laws but not necessarily how they are implemented because the state doesn’t emphasize education and training on gun safety.

“They put out publications on tobacco, why not do that with gun safety?” he said.

Bidwell taught all five of his children about gun safety — beginning when they were 3. He said other parents should do the same.

Larkin said her office provides gun locks but is out of them and is working with the county Sheriff’s Department to get more.