As Ranking Member of the County’s Public Safety Committee, Legislator DeRiggi-Whitton is intent on ensuring that Nassau County protects its residents to the best of its ability. Here are some recent public health and safety bills proposed by the Legislative Minority. All have been passed with the exception of the Gun Storage bill, which has not yet been called for discussion by the Legislative Majority.
Gun Storage Safety Law
Regardless of how people feel about the Second Amendment, few would disagree that loaded firearms should be safely stored in a locked cabinet or secure container or with a trigger lock when not in use. In October 2018, Legislator Ellen Birnbaum introduced a bill that would require safe storage of firearms in homes where children reside. Not only would this reduce the incidence of unintentional shooting or impulsive acts of domestic violence, but will prevent guns from getting into the hands of children.
Injuries and fatalities attributed to unsecured or improperly stored firearms are a serious threat to public health. Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas recently spoke on the issue of gun safety and shared some startling statistics:
• Gun violence is the third leading cause of death among children 17 or younger;
• During the first five months of 2018, the number of children who were killed by firearms exceeded the number of our military personnel who were killed while serving overseas;
• Thirty-five percent of households with children have at least one firearm and the firearms in 55 percent of those homes are not safely secured. Forty-three percent of these guns have no trigger locking mechanism.
Not only will the safe storage of firearms dramatically enhance safety in the home and reduce the incidence of violent crime, it is a solution that at the same time respects the rights of gun owners.
Making Distributing Intimate Images a Crime
Under this legislation, which was signed into law by County Executive Laura Curran on March 7, 2019, the act of intentionally and non-consensually distributing sexual or other intimate images is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Commonly know as “revenge porn,” the act is defined as publishing, posting, sharing or otherwise releasing images with the intent to cause harm to the person depicted in the image where that person had a reasonable expectation of privacy, is identifiable and was done without the consent of the depicted individual.
The legislation also empowers victims to sue for civil damages. Following its ratification, a statewide ban on “revenge porn” was also adopted.
Support For Medical Examiner Toxicology
More than $50,000 has been appropriated to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and accuracy of the State’s Criminal Justice division related to improving the timeliness and quality of forensic services. Part of this additional funding includes further support for opioid drug testing.
Increasing DWI Traffic Stops
Every licensed driver is aware of the laws regarding driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but many get behind the wheel nonetheless. According to the CDC, in 2016, over 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. More than ten percent of these fatalities involved children under 15.
In an effort to save more lives, the Nassau County Police Department is initiating a STOP DWI program that heightens their efforts of stopping cars when there is any indication of erratic driving. This program expands the work of important community organizations that help fight drunk driving and keep people safer during holidays and throughout the year, such as MADD and SADD.