In his more than a decade and a half in the legislature, Brian Kavanagh has repeatedly taken on the gun industry lobby and won, helping to reduce gun violence in New York and across the country. He is the founder and chair of American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention and New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention.
In 2022, Brian led the Senate debate to enact legislation to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key part of New York’s gun permitting law. The new law created stringent training and background check requirements for permits to carry a gun, banned guns from sensitive areas even with a permit, and enhanced safe storage requirements. Also in 2022, Brian successfully enacted his legislation to establish the State Police as the “point of contact” to conduct background checks on all gun and ammunition sales, ensuring a more thorough review than the federal system alone. In the same year, Brian enacted new rules for gun dealers to ensure guns aren’t lost or stolen from their inventory and to prevent gun and ammunition sales to those who are prohibited from purchasing them. He also enacted the nation’s first statewide ban on the sale of body armor, which has been used in mass shootings, with exceptions for law enforcement, security jobs, or other positions that require it.
Brian drafted and passed New York’s “red flag” law, enacted in 2019, which empowers families, law enforcement, and schools to obtain Extreme Risk Protection Orders to keep guns away from individuals when evidence shows they are likely to harm themselves or others. In 2013, he helped craft the NY SAFE Act, which requires background checks on all gun sales, and bans certain military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. He has also advocated successfully for laws requiring a permit and a minimum age of 21 for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, safe storage of guns when not in their owner’s possession, more support for community-based gun violence intervention, and gun violence prevention research funding. Brian’s work earned him the Detective McDonald Law Enforcement Award from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence in 2019.