AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

New York to Georgia: Toughen up your gun laws


New York’s attorney general has a message for Georgians: keep your guns to yourselves.

In a study released this week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman blamed lax gun laws in states such as Georgia for much of the violent crime that occurs in New York state.

New York has some of the nation’s strictest gun-control laws: It bans so-called assault weapons; prohibits the sale of high-capacity magazines; requires background checks on buyers in all firearms transactions, including private and gun-show sales; and issues licenses to people who legally buy handguns.

“New York’s gun laws have curbed access to the guns most associated with violent crimes: handguns,” Schneiderman said in the report. “But the ready availability of these guns in states without these protections thwarts New York’s efforts to keep its citizens safe.”

The study used data from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to determine the origins of guns recovered in connection with crimes in New York between 2010 and 2015.

Georgia sent more guns to New York than any states other than Virginia and Pennsylvania, the study found.

Police connected 2,822 guns originally bought in Georgia to crimes in New York; 2,711 of those were handguns. Georgia accounted for 13 percent of out-of-state “crime guns” recovered by New York police during the five years covered by the study.

The largest number of the Georgia guns – 152 – were connected to a crime within one year of purchase. Another 209 had been bought in Georgia between one and three years earlier. Many may have been stolen from gun stores or individuals in Georgia.

Schneiderman used the report’s release to call for federal legislation to mandate background checks on all purchases at gun shows and for state laws s to require permits for handgun buyers.

In Georgia, at least, that proposal is a non-starter. Georgia law prohibits police from even asking people with guns whether they have concealed-carry permits. The state allows open carry of firearms in many public places – bars, for instance, or the non-secure areas of airports.

Schneiderman does have statistics on his side, though.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York had the fourth-lowest rate of death by firearms in 2014: 4.2 per 100,000 population. Statewide that year, 869 people died from gunshot wounds.

Georgia, on the other hand, had the 16th-highest rate of firearms deaths: 13.7 per 100,000 population.

In 2014, guns killed 1,388 people in Georgia.

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