De Blasio Launches Interstate Investigation To Keep Guns Out Of City


Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Julie Menin this week announced an investigation into the possible illegal and unlicensed sale of secondhand guns in the city.

The DCA subpoenaed ARMSLIST, one of the country’s largest online firearms marketplace, earlier this month in an effort to uncover whether sellers have been using the website to advertise and illegally sell secondhand firearms, bypassing city, state, and federal laws.

The City is taking a new approach in combatting the issue. Instead of focusing on ARMSLIST as a whole, the DCA will focus on the sellers using the website.

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

“The loss of even a single life at the hands of gun violence is far too many. Cities all across this country are confronting the scourge of firearms – and more dangerous ones – on our streets. In the absence of any concerted federal action to mandate background checks and tighten the marketplace of guns running amok in our country, New York City must use every tool at our disposal to save lives,” said de Blasio.

Menin stressed that sellers should be held accountable for the role they play in providing firearms that are involved in shootings across the city. “When dealers are not licensed and do not conduct background checks, potentially dangerous individuals can easily obtain guns, often with deadly consequences,” said Menin.

Anonymous sellers using ARMSLIST to advertise firearms may not have a DCA secondhand gun dealers’ license, thereby possibly violating New York State’s SAFE Act, which requires that a background check be performed by a federal firearms licensee before a firearm can be sold by a private seller. However, the SAFE Act does not apply to transfers between immediate family members.

Secondhand firearm dealers can advertise anywhere, including online classifieds, as long as the advertisement complies with the City’s rules. Any person buying or selling secondhand firearms in New York City must have a DCA secondhand firearm dealer license. In order to obtain this license, a licensee must go through a background check and provide copies of his or her Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Federal Firearms License and New York Police Department Firearms Dealer’s License. Records of sales must be kept for three years.

A violation of the DCA licensing law can result in a class A misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500. Second violations can result in up to 15 days in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

In the wake of NYPD Officer Randolph Holder’s death, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton plans to aid the DCA’s investigation. “Illegally possessed firearms have no place in this city. We will continue working to prevent, investigate, and hold responsible individuals or organizations who bring illegal guns into New York City. We look forward to working with the Department of Consumer Affairs in their investigation,” said Bratton.

Public Advocate Letitia James urged that websites like ARMSLIST be stopped. “New Yorkers are dying every single day because firearms are in the wrong hands. I applaud the Department of Consumer Affairs for taking this action, and look forward to helping them move forward with this investigation.”

  “Mayor de Blasio is right to insist that New York City must lead the way, and I commend the work of his administration and DCA to make our city safe with the launch of this groundbreaking initiative to crackdown on illegal secondhand gun sales,” said Western Brooklyn Congressman Jerrold Nadler.

City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr.
City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr.

Brooklyn Waterfront State Senator Daniel Squadron highlighted the importance of law enforcement, saying, “ Good laws can help keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them….But, they can’t work without city, state, and federal enforcement.”

Bushwick City Council Member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr. called the DCA’s investigation an important step forward ensuring that sellers who advertise firearms on this site are not violating the city’s laws. “We must do more to ensure illegal firearms do not make their way into the hands of criminals and I commend Commissioner Menin for launching this investigation,” said Espinal.

City Council Member Laurie Cumbo
City Council Member Laurie Cumbo

Flatlands City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams called the investigation, “an important step toward combating this pandemic that has plagued our city for far too long.”

Fort Greene City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo stressed the importance of this investigation, especially in communities of color. “Gun sellers, dealers, and owners have a shared responsibility to ensure that firearms are kept out of the possession of individuals whose actions endanger innocent lives and the safety of our community. We must hold all individuals who knowingly circumvent city, state, and federal laws meant to protect the public from illegally possessed firearms accountable,” she said.