Destitio: Legislation would prevent further tragedies like the Blossvale shooting

By By MIKE LaFAVE

ALBANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - State Troopers were sent to a Blossvale home Tuesday morning on a domestic violence complaint. Once there, officers witnessed Adam Theall shoot and kill his three-month-old baby boy. Wednesday, Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito touted pending legislation that she says would prevent tragedies like that from taking place in the future.

The bill requires family court judges to inquire if defendants are in possession of any firearms. The alleged victim must have an order of protection against the victim for this regulation to be upheld. If the defendant answers yes, all firearms, licensed and unlicensed, would then be stripped from the defendant's possession.

As the law stands right now, judges use discretion whether to ask defendants about the ownership of weapons. The bill Destito is pushing would take that decision out of the judges hand and make it mandatory.

Current law also dictates only licensed guns be removed. Long guns like rifles and shotguns do not need to be licensed, only handguns require a permit in New York State. This bill would include all firearms.

Destito believes the passing of this proposal would go a long way to preventing events like Tuesday's from unfolding in the future.

"What Happened to Eithen Theall at the hands of his father this week is an absolute heartbreak and tragedy," Destito said. "It is unfathomable that a person who has lengthy criminal history was allowed to keep a firearm in the home. I am working to ensure that this type of atrocity not happen again."

However, it is uncertain if Assembly Bill 4320A would apply to the Theall case. So far, it has not been confirmed if Eithen Theall's mother, Jamie Baker, had an order of protection against Adam Theall. A judge would have only been forced to ask Theall about his ownership of firearms without that order of protection.

It is also still unknown if the gun used to kill baby Eithen belonged to Adam Theall or if it was someone else's firearm.

Assembly Bill 4320A passed the Assembly unanimously back in March. The bill currently sits in the Senate Codes Committee. If the proposal passes that committee, it would then move to the full Senate for a vote. If it passes there, it would then be sent to Governor David Paterson to be signed into law.

Assemblyman David Townsend voted in favor of the above mentioned bill. But he's voted against similar proposals in the past. Townsend says it is a delicate balancing act when it comes to gun legislation.

"It's imperative that laws are in place to keep guns out of the hands of the "bad guys," Townsend said. "But that has to be done without stepping on the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens."

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