New York has become the first state to pass tougher gun control legislation since the tragedy at the Sandy Hook elementary school.
The NY State Senate passed the bill named Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or NY SAFE Act yesterday. The State Assembly was expected to take up the bill at 10 am Tuesday.
Provisions in the new law include:
- Assault weapons are defined by having two "military rifle" features, such as folding stock, muzzle flash suppressor or bayonet mount. The proposal would reduce that to one feature, including the popular pistol grip. The language specifically targeted the military-style rifle used in the Newtown shootings. Current owners of those guns will have to register them.
- Private sales of assault weapons to someone other than an immediate family would be subject to a background check through a dealer. New Yorkers also would be barred from buying assault weapons over the Internet, and failing to safely store a weapon could lead to a misdemeanor charge.
- Ammunition magazines would be restricted to seven bullets, from the current 10, and current owners of higher-capacity magazines would have a year to sell them out of state. An owner caught at home with eight or more bullets in a magazine could face a misdemeanor charge.
- Stores that sell ammunition will have to register with the state, run background checks on buyers of bullets and keep an electronic database of bullet sales.
- Therapists who believe a mental health patient made a credible threat to use a gun illegally will be required to report it to a mental health director who would have to notify the state. A patient's gun could be taken from him or her.
- Increased sentences for gun crimes including the shooting of a first responder that Cuomo called the "Webster provision." Last month in the western New York town of Webster, two firefighters were killed after responding to a fire set by the shooter, who eventually killed himself (http://yhoo.it/X00Nf5).
A bill similar to that last provision, called "Mark's Law" had been pending following the shooting of a responding EMT in Cape Vincent. That bill had no traction in Albany, but on the heels of the fatal shootings of volunteer firefighters in Webster, this provision was added to the SAFE Act.
On Monday night, speaking of the bill, Governor Cuomo said "It is comprehensive. It is sound. It addresses the multifaceted problem that we're dealing with. It protects, I believe, hunters and sportsmen, et cetera, and legitimate gun owners" (http://usat.ly/W3Xwg7).
"We haven't saved any lives tonight, except one: the political life of a governor who wants to be president," said Republican Sen. Greg Ball who represents part of the Hudson Valley. "We have taken an entire category of firearms that are currently legal that are in the homes of law-abiding, tax paying citizens. ... We are now turning those law-abiding citizens into criminals" (http://yhoo.it/X00Nf5).
The bill is expected to pass easily in the Assembly today.