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N.Y. Gun Law Ups Penalty for Killers of Responders

Tucked into the controversial New York gun law is a provision that increases the penalty for someone who kills a first responder while they are performing their duties.

The Webster provision appears in the NY SAFE Act and was named in honor of West Webster Firefighters Michael “Chip” Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, who were shot and killed in an ambush on Christmas Eve.

The provision states that a person convicted of killing a responder will be sentenced to life without parole.

The previous law that carried the penalty for those who kill law enforcement officers now includes firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, ambulance drivers as well as physicians and nurses who are acting as first responders.

“We’re pleased the governor put it in the bill,” said David Quinn, chief administrative officer for the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY).

The association and other New York groups had been lobbying for the past several years for their legislators to pass a similar bill called Mark’s Law.

The measure was named in honor of Mark Davis, an EMT who was shot and killed on Jan. 30, 2009 while responding to call in Cape Vincent.

Christopher Burke, who was found to be emotionally disturbed, pleaded guilty to manslaughter. On April 1, 2011, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

“It’s sad that we had to have a disaster like West Webster to bring this back into focus,” Quinn said.

Nonetheless, he said he was pleased that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo added the provision in the law he signed on the second day of the state’s legislative session.