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New York Passes Tough Gun Control Law Before Obama Announcement

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo beat President Obama to the punch. On the day before Obama is expected to announce his new plan to staunch gun violence, Cuomo proudly signed into law legislation that makes New York’s already stringent gun control laws even stricter.

In addition to expanding the ban on assault weapons and lowering the legal ammunition capacity available to New York gun buyers, the new measure takes serious steps to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill by putting a potentially controversial requirement in the laps of therapists.

The new law requires health professionals to report to the state if someone is a danger. The state would add that person’s name to a database that would be checked when gun licenses are sought or renewed every five years.

“People who are mentally ill should not have access to guns, that’s common sense,” Cuomo said at a signing ceremony in Albany. “That’s probably the hallmark of this bill, coming up with a system that allows for mental-health screens.”

Republicans played a pivotal role in the passage of the mental health measures —though their motivation may have been different from Cuomo’s.  Many gun rights advocates have stressed that it is mental illness and not guns that is the cause of massacres like the shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Though it is noteworthy that the tough new law sailed through a GOP-led Senate, Republicans in the New York legislature who were opposed to the measure had harsh words for the governor.

“Why are we being bullied into voting on this bill without our proper, responsible due diligence?” said Steven Katz (R-Westchester). “Solely due to the governor’s misguided, egotistic notion that this will advance his presidential aspirations.”

Cuomo was motivated to be the first state after the Newtown shooting to pass new gun control measures. After Vice President Joe Biden held some of the most highly publicized meetings in recent memory to forge a set of gun control recommendations for the president, Obama is expected today to propose new federal legislation to ban assault weapons and to make background checks more effective.
New York already had a law on the books banning magazines that hold more than 10 cartridges. The new law drops the maximum capacity to seven cartridges and also requires a statewide re-registration of all handguns; New Yorkers who currently own assault weapons will be allowed to keep them, but will also have to re-register them with the state.
 “Seven bullets in a gun, why? Because the high-capacity magazines that give you the capacity to kill a large number of human beings in a very short period of time is nonsensical to a civil society,” Cuomo said.

In the Newtown shooting, 20-year-old Adam Lanza carried numerous high-capacity magazines and he changed gun clips several times, allowing him to unleash at least 150 rounds in his 10-minute assault.

The New York law also expands the definition of banned weapons to include semi-automatic pistols and rifles with at least one military-style feature, which would have meant that Lanza’s Bushmaster AR-15 would be banned.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has become an influential voice for gun control, praised the Cuomo package as a “big step.”

“I think this protects the Second Amendment rights of people and at the same time makes all New Yorkers safer,” Bloomberg said.

But as expected, the National Rifle Association denounced the new law, saying Cuomo was so driven by political ambition that he was “determined to steal the thunder from an anti-gun White House.”

“The Legislature caved to the political demands of a governor and helped fuel his personal political aspirations,” the NRA said. “Such an assault in Albany on Second Amendment rights and democracy is the true assault weapon.”


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One thought on “New York Passes Tough Gun Control Law Before Obama Announcement

  1. Doesn't matter what kind of laws the US passes when it prosecutes them with inept attorneys like Stephen Heymann and Carmen Ortiz of the US Attorney Generals office.

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