If you’re not using your gun, you better lock it up.
That’s the message Bronx lawmakers took to the site of a recent West Farms shooting on Friday, June 13, where they announced their push for a new state law aimed at punishing those who don’t stow away their unused firearms behind lock and key.
The new law — sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Klein (D–Morris Park) and co-authored by Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda (D–Parkchester) — clamps down on gun owners who don’t securely stow away their firearms.
Lock it or pay big
The so-called “Nicholas’s Law” is named for 12-year-old Nicholas Naumkin from Sarasota Springs, who died after being shot by a friend who was playing with his dad’s gun.
The friend’s dad wound up guilty of a misdemeanor and paid a $250 fine. The proposed new law would turn a similar incident into a felony punishable by more than a year in prison.
Bronx residents say the new law could save lives at home — if residents abide by it.
“My brother would still be here with us, it’s as simple as that,” said Belmont resident Alexandra Bodden, whose 13-year-old brother Michael Graham used his father’s unlocked handgun to commit suicide in January 2013.
The new bill isn’t the first gun measure pushed by Bronx pols in recent years.
Klein and Sepulveda also celebrated the state Senate’s passage of “Luisito’s Law,” which harshens penalties to gunmen who commit a firearm crime within 250 feet of a playground or within 1,000 feet of a school.
The Assembly has until Thursday, June 19, to vote on the bill if it hopes to pass it this session.
Either way, the two pols say they’re sending a message that they are not going to tolerate gun violence of any kind.
“This bill says that if you take aim at our children, we are going to fire right back,” said Klein.
That law is named after Luisito Oyola Jr., who was three years old when he was hit by a stray bullet in Vidalia Park after a fight broke out there.
Luisito survived after being shipped to nearby St. Barnabas Hospital. Now four years old, he joined his grandmother Lorine Padilla in praising the senate’s passage of his namesake bill, even if she thought its passage wouldn’t solve all of the Bronx’s gun problems.
“We are not naive to think it will eradicate [the violence],” said Padilla. “But we know that it will deter the next thug that picks up a gun to shoot someone else when they know that there are children in the area.”