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NY seals 1st state gun laws since Newtown massacre

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, speaks during a news conference announcing an agreement with legislative leaders on New York's Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act in the Red Room at the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Also pictured are Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz, left, and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, speaks during a news conference announcing an agreement with legislative leaders on New York's Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act in the Red Room at the Capitol on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. Also pictured are Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz, left, and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers agreed to pass the toughest gun control law in the nation and the first since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, calling for a stricter assault weapons ban and provisions to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats.

"This is a scourge on society," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday night, six days after making gun control a centerpiece of his agenda in his State of the State address. The bipartisan effort was fueled by the Newtown tragedy that took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators. "At what point do you say, 'No more innocent loss of life'?"

The measure also calls for restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns. It is expected to pass Tuesday.

"This is not about taking anyone's rights away," said Sen. Jeffrey Klein, a Bronx Democrat. "It's about a safe society ... today we are setting the mark for the rest of the county to do what's right."

Under current state law, 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.

In another provision, a therapist who believes a mental health patient made a credible threat to use a gun illegally would 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.

The legislation also increases 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.

The measure passed the Senate 43-18 on the strength of support from Democrats, many of whom previously sponsored bills that were once blocked by Republicans. The Democrat-led Assembly gaveled out before midnight and planned to take the issue up at 10 a.m. Tuesday. It is expected to pass easily.

The governor confirmed the proposal, previously worked out in closed session, also would mandate a police registry of assault weapons, grandfathering in assault weapons already in private hands.

It was agreed upon exactly a month since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

"It is well-balanced, it protects the Second Amendment," said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Long Island.

Cuomo said he wanted quick action to avoid a run on assault weapons and ammunition. He estimates there are already about 1 million assault weapons in New York state.

Republican Sen. Greg Ball called that political opportunism in a rare criticism of the popular and powerful governor seen by his supporters as a possible candidate for president in 2016.

"We haven't saved any lives tonight, except one: the political life of a governor who wants to be president," said 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."

In the gun debate, one concern for New York is its major gun manufacturer upstate.

Remington Arms Co. makes the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle that was used in the Connecticut shootings and again on Christmas Eve when the two firefighters were slain in Webster. The two-century-old Remington factory in Ilion in central New York employs 1,000 workers in a Republican Senate district.

The bill was the first test of the new coalition in control of the Senate, which has long been run by Republicans opposed to gun control measures. The chamber is now in the hands of Republicans and five breakaway Democrats led by Klein, an arrangement expected to result in more progressive legislation.

Former Republican Sen. Michael Balboni said that for legislators from the more conservative upstate region of New York, gun control "has the intensity of the gay marriage issue." In 2011, three of four Republicans who crossed the aisle to vote for same-sex marriage ended up losing their jobs because of their votes.

Comments

waltspecht 1 year, 7 months ago

Darn, Cuomo says there are a Million of those evil weapons out there, and not one mass shooting with even one of them. Let us quickly overeact and pass another law to control that which needs no control to begin with. Learn to control people, not instruments. You did note that the psych only has to report them if they threaten to use a gun, LP Gas, Gasoline, Incindiaries, Tanker Trucks, Bulldozers, Pipe Bombs and just knives or swords don't count. Patient Doctor privilage still covers those, as well as Privacy Acts.

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ZCorp 1 year, 7 months ago

Can I ask (1.) silly question ? New York State & New York City have some of the " Highest " Crime rates in the United States. Do " Criminals " follow strict new & old gun laws ?

What a Joke ! ?

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VSU 1 year, 7 months ago

The law abiding citizens are the victims here. The criminals and thugs can just laugh it off.

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Black_Falcon 1 year, 7 months ago

If gun laws (or any laws for that matter) worked, why are our jails and prisons so over crowded?

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VSU 1 year, 7 months ago

Great point! Rape, assault & battery, child molestations, murders other than by guns. The list goes on. Focas on the crimes, not the weapons.

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ObjectiveEyes 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm all for reasonable measures to keep guns away from criminals, but, I'm not sure how this helps. Keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats would not have prevented the terrible tragedy in Newtown. To my knowledge, that guy never made any threats.

Also, I'm not sure how a pistol grip, a bi-fold or a bayonnet mount makes a gun more dangerous. Of course, Cuomo has always been a liberal loon.

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Jacob 1 year, 7 months ago

You are correct. Those features just scare the uninformed. This is more sillyass grandstanding. It will have zero effect on crime. It is just something shiney to wave before the masses.

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USTPC 1 year, 7 months ago

"It is well-balanced, it protects the Second Amendment," said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Long Island....if he was from my district he would have just lost my vote with that statement. Not only is the proposal not well balanced it violates the rights of law abiding citizens. Any bets on how long it takes the new law to be challenged in court?

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

Governor Cuomo is now subject to impeachment proceedings and I suppose all who voted for this illegal action. Those who trade freedom for safety deserve neither.

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right is the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Militia is composed of citizens who own their guns. They are to protect the free State from outside enemies and to prevent government from destroying the free State. They were not expected to be armed with sharp sticks. They were expected to be armed with similar weapons used by those potential enemies. This crap about a hunter not needing a 30 round magazine is that....crap. What if the game you are hunting can shoot back? The government MUST fear the people, not the other way around.

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Oldguy 1 year, 7 months ago

This will make black market gun sales rise in the New York area. Just gives criminals another way to make money.

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