Spitzer responds to ABC7 gun investigation

October 22, 2007 9:00:00 PM PDT
Last week, The Investigators went undercover to expose a gaping loophole in New York state's gun laws. Now Governor Eliot Spitzer is promising to examine the problem more closely. The Investigators Jim Hoffer has the story.

The black powder rifle's exemption from gun laws is one of the last remaining major gun loopholes in the state of New York. But the days of buying this deadly weapon no questions asked may be numbered.

Our undercover investigation showed with alarming clarity just how easy it is to get a black powder rifle in New York.

Be it in a department store or on the Internet, the highly powerful .50 caliber weapon can be purchased without any identification, permit or background check.

That's because the black powder gun is muzzle loaded and therefore classified as antique -- and state and federal gun laws do not include antique firearms.

We took the issue to the governor, the one most able to do something about it.

Jim Hoffer: "What if anything can you do as governor to try to close this black powder gun loophole?"
Governor Spitzer: "We have a number of loophole closing gun-related bills that have been proposed. None of which has moved yet through the legislature, but I will look to see if they cover this particular situation."
Hoffer: "And if they don't will you move on that do you think?"
Spitzer: "Sure, it's obviously something that bears examination."

Twice in the last four months, the deadly black-powder gun made news. First, a student with a history of psychological problems carried one loaded onto the St. John's University campus. And in June, a convicted rapist with the same kind of gun shot and nearly killed a state police trooper.

"These guns can kill and they should be subject to the same restrictions that other guns are subject to," said Michael Gianaris (D-Queens).

The Queens state lawmaker says after seeing our investigation he'll be introducing legislation to close the loophole that exempts these so-called antique weapons from gun laws.

"Clearly this gun has already done harm to a state trooper, it almost caused a tragedy at St. John's and we have to act quickly to keep them out of the hands of people who shouldn't be holding guns," Gianaris said.

Assemblyman Gianaris plans to introduce the gun bill in the general assembly next week.