You’ve heard of DWI and DUI: Driving While Intoxicated and Driving Under the Influence. Meet CWI: Carrying a Gun While Intoxicated, a proposed law that would land irresponsible gunslingers up to a year in jail.
On Thursday, February 4, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Jeff Klein visited the Morris Park Community Association to announce a new bill before the state legislature that would make it a crime to carry a handgun, shotgun or rifle when drunk.
Bloomberg and Klein, the bill’s sponsor, were joined by co-sponsor Assemblyman Jose Peralta, the mayor’s criminal justice coordinator John Feinblatt, City Council public safety committee chair Peter Vallone Jr. and MPCA president Al D’Angelo. When Bloomberg first proposed a CWI law in a September 2009 campaign speech, many called it a “common sense” idea.
“If you are too intoxicated to drive a car, you should not be carrying a gun,” Bloomberg said. “The law would apply the same standards and tests that are now used to prevent and punish driving while intoxicated. And that’s only right. I’m hopeful that our legislators and Governor [David] Paterson will make New York the 21st state to enact such a life-saving law.”
The bill comes on the heels of some 90 incidents of drinking-related gun violence in New York last year. Most of the incidents occurred in or near bars. Most occurred downstate.
“Guns and alcohol are a deadly mix,” Klein said. “The time is now for us to get serious about penalties for those who chose to carry a gun while intoxicated.”
Under the proposed law, carrying a gun while intoxicated would be a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $10,000 fine.Someone is considered intoxicated in New York when his or her blood-alcohol levels surpass .08 percent. Under the proposed law, obvious signs such as staggering, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol would also be considered evidence.
Members of the Morris Park Community Association hoped that the law would keep the neighborhood safe.
“I think this legislation would go further in continuing to keep our community safe,” MPCA vice president Tony Signorile said. “Now all will pay attention. You cannot get drunk or use drugs and carry weapons or it will come back to bite you.”
Anyone who thinks that carrying a gun while intoxicated is a good idea is woefully misinformed, D’Angelo said.
“It makes no sense at all to be on a mind-altering substance and hold a weapon,” D’Angelo remarked.
Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or email@example.com