On Tuesday, January 15th, Governor Cuomo signed comprehensive gun control legislation into law just one hour after its passage in the Assembly. The legislation cleared the State Senate a day earlier.
Under the new law, the State strengthens its existing assault weapons ban, prohibiting the sale of clips that hold more than seven rounds. It also requires anyone purchasing ammunition to undergo a state background check and present state-issued photo identification, and orders owners of legal semi-automatic weapons to undergo background checks, register their guns with the state police and recertify that registration every five years.
Assemblyman Joe Lentol was the lead sponsor of the new law and led the six hour debate that resulted in its passage. “Semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips belong on the battlefield, not on our streets,” he said about the Assembly bill, which also mandates that all private sales of firearms be made through licensed gun dealers to ensure that background checks are performed. Other key provisions reimburse schools for the cost of adding electronic systems and hardened doors, and revoke or suspend gun licenses from subjects of a court order of protection.
The Senate bill expands the State’s assault weapon ban, strengthens licensing requirements and creates a state-wide database to help law enforcement keep New Yorkers safe.
“Following the recent tragedies in Webster, New York and Newtown, Connecticut, New Yorkers made it clear that the time to enact common-sense gun measures had come. With the passage of this comprehensive legislative package, New York is now the national standard in the continued fight to protect the public from the scourge of gun violence,” said State Senator Martin Dilan. “This ground-breaking legislation is a long-overdue compromise between a New Yorker’s Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and the stricter laws and tougher penalties needed to ensure we keep people safe.”
One of the most significant parts of the new law deals with access to firearms for those with mental-health issues. The shooters in Newtown, CT and Aurora, CO had previously been diagnosed with mental-health conditions. The Assembly bill tightens Kendra’s Law, which allows courts to order some mentally ill people to accept treatment as a condition for living in a community. The new gun control law requires mental-health professionals to report patients they believe are a danger to themselves or others to law enforcement. Those who possess a firearm license would have their licenses revoked or suspended and be required to surrender their firearms.
“There is no quick fix to the troubling issue of gun violence, nor is there only one way to approach it,” Lentol said. “We have a responsibility to the people of New York State, and we showed them our commitment to their safety.”
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