Warning labels will soon be required wherever firearms are sold in New York’s Westchester County. This week’s unanimous vote by a county board in the state is among the range of local responses to gun violence, including recent shootings in, New York; , California; and .
Access to a firearm heightens the risk of suicide, homicide and accidental death, and warning labels can be an important tool in educating people on a public health and safety risk, according to Christian Heyne, vice president of policy at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
“There’s a misconception in this country that bringing a firearm into the home can make it safer, when you are increasing the likelihood that you and your family will be shot,” Heyne told CBS MoneyWatch. “We have a responsibility to make sure folks exercising their Second Amendment rights are doing so with the full understanding of the risk.”
The idea is one promoted by the Gun Shop Project — a nationwide partnership of gun owner groups and suicide prevention advocates — that encourages shops to display and pass along materials about firearms and suicide.
“This is just to post a warning sign for people to be better informed,” Jewel Williams Johnson, a Westchester County legislator who helped sponsor the measure requiring the cautionary signage, told CBS MoneyWatch.
While passed on Monday and takes effect in three months.some form of gun control, “this is not that,” Johnson said of the new law, which
“If this legislation and warning signage in gun shops help to make any gun owner think twice and be more diligent,” preventing a single domestic violence incident, suicide or unintentional death of a child, then it is worth the effort, said Johnson, who noted there are about 40 gun shops in the county.
According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, 54% of gun deaths in New York are suicide, and more than 27% of all suicide deaths in the state involve firearms. Further, nearly 37% of New York’s intimate partner homicides involve a gun.
To be displayed at retailers and given to those seeking gun licenses in the county, the notices will also include contact information for the county’s crisis prevention and response team and the national suicide hotline number.
Divergent paths among states
Other cities and states around the country are taking action on guns, with some localities loosening restrictions and others tightening them. Texas, for instance, as of September stopped requiring residents to. The 18-year-old who at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, legally bought the weapon he used, law enforcement officials said Wednesday.
At the other end of the spectrum, New York Governor Kathy Hochul this month promised to work to increase the state’s minimum age for purchasing a gun from 18 to 21 “at a minimum.”
While surveys find most Americans support a ban on assault-style weapons, none of the 30 states with a Republican-controlled legislature has implemented policy, according to Christopher Poliquin, a professor of strategy at UCLA who has researched gun policy.
Although paralysis on the issue at the federal level is now the norm, “both advocates and opponents of new restrictions should look beyond Washington for action on gun policy,” Poliquin wrote Wednesday in an essay published on TheConversation.com.
In Colorado, the Boulder City Council on June 7 is scheduled to consider a collection of proposed firearm laws that includes reviving a 2018 ban on assault-style rifles now that the state has lifted a ban on local gun-control measures. The city will also vote on raising the age to 21 for buying and possessing a firearm; adding a 10-day waiting period for buying a gun; and banning gun owners from carrying a concealed firearm near parks, playgrounds, churches and preschools.
As in New York’s Westchester County, Boulder officials are also looking at requiring its two gun stores to post a health warning about the dangers posed by guns to owners, family members and others.
Gun dealers and gun ranges in Washington State’s King County since 2018 have been required to post signs warning about firearm risks.