In light of the ongoing gun violence epidemic in our country, state, and county, the Albany County Legislature introduced a local law to educate people about the public health and safety risks associated with fire arms.
Albany County’s Commitment to Safe Society, or ACCESS Act, would require a warning sign posted at all gun dealers indicating the increased risk of gun violence along with contact information for the Albany County Mobile Crisis Team and the National Suicide Hotline. The law also requires that a written copy of the warning be given with all firearm purchases and when someone obtains a firearms license. Failure to display the warning label may result in imprisonment up to 15 days, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
“We must do everything we can at all levels of government to stem the horrific tide of gun violence that is sweeping our country,” said Albany County Legislator Dustin Reidy, sponsor of the ACCESS Act. “The ACCESS Act is a common-sense step toward the necessary goal of gun violence prevention. I am proud to introduce this bill with the support of many fellow Democrats. I hope parents, children, gun violence prevention advocates, and all members of our communities know that they are heard here in Albany County.
“Being informed and aware of the inherent risks of owning firearms is more important than ever,” said Albany County Legislative Speaker Andrew Joyce. “Any opportunity to encourage thought when buying firearms is essential to keep people safe. This legislation is a sensible step forward and a key part of a comprehensive strategy to stem the flow of guns firearms to reach young people in our communities, and to continue to call on the federal government to reactivate the Federal Assault Weapons Ban to keep weapons of war out of civilian hands.
“Gun violence is a preventable tragedy that has devastated our communities, schools, and places of work and worship across the country. It is our responsibility to act and as Majority Leader I am proud to support and co-sponsor the ACCESS Act introduced by Lawmaker Reidy,” said Majority Leader Dennis Feeney. “This will require all arms and gun dealers to publish information about firearm safety risks in the home, including the risk of suicide, homicide, death in domestic disputes and/or accidental death of children, family members and others, and include telephone numbers for mental health services. Raising awareness and access to support services are important tools in our ongoing efforts to prevent the tragedies caused by gun violence in our communities.
Over the past 10 years, the gun death rate has increased nearly 18 percent, with an average of 39,000 Americans dying each year from gun violence from 2015 to 2019. In 2020, that number grew to over 45,000 Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that an average of 483 deaths per year are due to unintentional shooting.
“Increasing public awareness in Albany County of the risk of access to firearms in the home is critical to keeping our families and loved ones safe,” said Tracey Fountain, a volunteer with the new chapter. Yorkie from Moms Demand Action. “Whether it is suicide by firearm, unintentional shooting of children or domestic violence, this order will help educate potential gun buyers and firearms license recipients about these risks before they buy a gun. I am grateful to the County Legislature for taking significant action on this critical issue.
The ACCESS Act is modeled after similar legislation passed in May by the Westchester County Legislature.
The ACCESS Act is referred to law and public safety committees for further consideration.