Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Legislative Focus - Not solving the problem

In 1987, after extensive research into the crime problems of New York and the legislative history of more than 75 years of increasingly punitive gun control laws, Roger Fulton wrote:
"Few criminals apply for permits for their guns and few permit holders become criminals. The simple logic of this situation indicates that more general legislation will not solve the problem. For over 75 years, the legislators have tried to impose legal standards on an element of society which ignores the law and also has few ethical standards."
"The burden of  these laws has fallen , not on the law violator, but on the law-abiding citizen. There is little equity in a system that threatens a law-abiding permit holder with up to six months in jail  for failure to change his address, when a majority of persons arrested for illegal handguns spend no time in jail."
"The Police Foundation study has identified the offending population as being urban and young with previous arrest records. Yet most permits in New York State are held by persons in rural or suburban areas with no arrest records. Legislators should target the offending population, not the law-abiding population, if they expect their efforts to be effective."
Source: An Overview of the Handgun Control System in New York State by Roger V. Fulton, Spring, 1987

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Who was doing the gun crimes?

The Police Foundation's 1987 study undertook evaluation of who the gun offenders were. No other study had clearly identified who was guilty of possessing and unlawfully using handguns in New York State. Their findings were enlightening and could be critical to understanding the total problem.
"Most gun offenders were between 18 and 25. One half were black. One half had not completed high school. Although 2/3 had prior misdemeanor and felony arrests, few had been convicted of these crimes."
"Perhaps the entire Police Foundation study of the handgun control law [of 1980] can best be summed up by the tile of Chapter Six of that report:  CONCLUSION: OVERSOLD BUT NOT NECESSARILY USELESS."
 Sources: Police Foundation, The 1980 New York Gun Law; An Evaluation of its Implementation and Impact," Final Report to the National Institute of Justice, January 9. 1987 and
An Overview of the Handgun Control System in New York State by Roger V. Fulton, Spring 1987.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Prosecutors and Judges and Firearms Laws

In 1980 mandatory sentencing laws were passed by the New York State Legislature. The message they tried to send was "Get caught with a loaded gun and you'll do at least a year in jail." It certainly looked good on paper. In 1981 the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services undertook a study to see how effective this new "mandatory sentencing" law had been in New York City. But they only studied "Loaded Gun Arraignments" that made it through the initial prosecutor discretionary phase as to whether or not to proceed to the arraignment stage. To make this long and technical study short, more than 60% of  persons convicted of these "Loaded Gun" charges  did not serve the mandatory one year sentence as laid out by the legislature. The report cited below stated, "...it is still obvious that the intent of the law was not being complied with by prosecutors and judges to the fullest extent."
Sources: "Criminal Possession of a Loaded Firearm Outside the Home or Place od Business - The effect of the Gun Law in New York City," contained in Division of Criminal Justice Service Semi-Annual Report on Violent Felony and Juvenile Offenses in New York State. February 2, 1982
And, An Overview of the Handgun Control System in New York State by Roger V. Fulton, Spring, 1987 , Page 39