Newly proposed legislation will allow judges to set bail for anyone charged with the illegal sale, use, or possession of a firearm in New York State. Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick and Assemblymember Sandy Galef introduced this bill as gun violence has spiked in the state. The reform would help law enforcement keep defendants off the streets as they await trial.
“Around the country, gun violence is on the rise,” said Reichlin-Melnick. “We must provide our partners in law enforcement with the tools they need to protect our neighborhoods from the threat of gun violence. When I took office in January, I immediately began conversations with local law enforcement to understand the obstacles they face in combating gun violence, and this bill is the result of those conversations.”
Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco and District Attorney Tom Walsh joined lawmakers as they announced the bill.
“Gun violence across this state and this nation is unprecedented and as such our state legislature must go back to Albany, gather the statistics, and amend the bail reform with respect to “guns” and give our magistrates back the discretion to set bail in ALL matters concerning guns and gun violence,” said Falco.
“In light of the unprecedented increase in gun violence in Rockland County over the last 18 months, I feel it is necessary that this bill be passed to allow judges the discretion to impose bail on anyone charged with the illegal sale, use, or possession of a gun,” said Walsh. “We must give the judges the ability to balance the defendant’s rights and public safety.”
The bill was introduced as a retraction to some components of the bail reform law passed in 2019, which eliminated the cash bail system for certain offenses. The reform was passed to address inequity among poor defendants; under the previous system, suspects who were unable to pay bail would remain incarcerated, while wealthier defendants could walk free before standing trial for the same crime.
Last year, several other changes were enacted to the bail reform law to provide more flexibility in certain cases, while also maintaining the core components of the reform.