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Russell looks to strengthen penalties for killing first responders

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ALBANY – Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, will introduce legislation that will increase the penalties for killing a first responder while limiting the public’s ability to access information about people with pistol permits.

The new legislation, which will be formally introduced by Mrs. Russell at a press conference in Watertown on Friday, will be an expansion of the bill known as “Mark’s Law” that was sponsored by Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton.

Mark’s Law was proposed following the murder of emergency medical technician Mark Davis on Jan. 30, 2009, after he responded to a call for help in Cape Vincent.

Mark’s Law passed the Senate in 2012 but failed to clear the Assembly, Mrs. Russell said.

“I wanted to really enhance the bill so that it would provide more justice in cases like Mark’s,” Mrs. Russell said.

The new legislation will ensure that anyone who murders a first responder will be guilty of murder in the first degree and will stiffen penalties for those guilty of giving weapons to those unqualified to have them.

Citing the recent shooting in Webster, where two firefighters were shot while responding to a house fire, Mrs. Russell said it is important that legally owned guns do not fall into the hands of people who want to use them for harm.

“We need to ensure that we are doing all that we can to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring in the first place,” she said.

Mrs. Russell also said the recent publication of the names and addresses of people with pistol permits in Westchester and Rockland counties by the Journal News was the reason she decided to add language ensuring that information is no longer part of the public record. She contends the publishing of the personal information of pistol permit holders provides a potentially easy source of guns for criminals.

“I think that really invites criminal activity,” Mrs. Russell said.

Mrs. Russell noted that many of the people listed by the Journal News are law enforcement agents who are now easier targets for criminals they may have helped put away.

“If you provide someone’s name and the county they reside in, I think that amount of information will provide enough insight to know how many gun owners there are in the community,”Mrs. Russell said.

More information will be available about the bill following the press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Dulles State Office Building.

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