New York Enacts Stiffest Gun Control Law in the Nation
Making good on promises by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state leaders, New York has passed a new gun control law that is likely the toughest in the United States.
The law follows in the wake of several suicide- rampage shootings involving semi-automatic weapons and is the first of its kind offered as a solution to such tragedies.
NY SAFE on the Books
The new law, titled the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (NY SAFE), tightens New York’s existing assault weapons ban to include semi-automatic pistols and rifles that have detachable magazines and one military-style feature, and semi-automatic shotguns with one military-style feature, according to the New York Times.
The law sailed through the Republican-controlled state Senate by a wide margin late on Jan. 14, mainly with the support of the Democrats; then the state Assembly, controlled by Democrats, followed suit on Jan. 15, and Cuomo signed the bill that afternoon.
The bill passed the Assembly over the objections of some Republicans that the vote was required without the usual three-day aging period, as Cuomo reportedly used a “message of necessity” to allow the legislature to vote on the bill as soon as it was introduced.
The new law also:
- requires owners of semi-automatic weapons to register them with the state
- bans magazine clips that hold more than seven rounds
- requires background checks for all gun sales, including private ones
- provides for life without parole for people convicted of murdering a first responder
- sets up a statewide gun registry and a uniform licensing standard across the state of New York
- amends and expands the 1999 Kendra’s Law to extend through 2017
- enacts a new felony for carrying a gun on school grounds
- allows gun owners with pistol permits to avoid open-records requests
Under Kendra’s Law, judges could already require involuntary outpatient commitment for those found mentally ill; SAFE expands outpatient treatment requirements from six months to a year and requires reviews before the end of treatment.
The new law also allows the state to suspend or revoke gun licenses based on the mental health reviews under Kendra’s law, according to CNN.
Several other provisions are in response to the deaths of firefighters in Webster, N.Y., including the first-responder and open-records provisions. (A newspaper published a map of pistol-permit holders in Westchester and Rockland Counties, reportedly attracting the ire of gun advocates concerned about privacy.)
The NRA also complained that the law was passed as a “secretive end-run” around the legislative process. “The legislature caved to the political demands of a Governor and helped fuel his personal political aspirations,” the organization said.
In the last decade, according to USA Today, the NRA has spent $21 million to lobby Congress and federal agencies concerning its own political demands.