Less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo promised to make New York the leader in gun safety, the State Legislature voted in favor of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement, or NY SAFE Act, that would effectively keep weapons away from the mentally ill and crack down on illegal guns.
The State Senate voted 43-18 in favor of a broad gun package around 11 p.m. on Monday, January 14; the Assembly voted 104-43 the following day, after hours of debate, to make the bill official.
Many opponents in the Assembly argued the bill was hastily thrown together in order for the state to be an example for the country. As a result, opponents said, registered gun owners would suffer.
Cuomo ratified the bill at the Capitol shortly after the Assembly’s approval:
“This was an extraordinary accomplishment by the legislature of this state,” Cuomo said before signing the bill. “This is a gun control bill if you will that actually exercises common sense.”
Cuomo said the limitations and amendments in the bill would not harm legal owners.
Limiting gun magazines to seven bullets was necessary, Cuomo said, “because the high capacity of magazines that give you the capacity to kill a large number of human beings in a very short time is not sensible for a civil society.” The seven-bullet cap, he added, would be enough for hunters and target shooters, while being too little for a gunman to do harm before police can respond.
People who are deemed unsafe to own a weapon by mental health professionals will have their licenses revoked or suspended under the bill. It also extends Kendra’s Law through 2017 to provide additional out-patient care for the mentally ill.
Assault weapons will now be banned under a “one-feature” test that will examine if a weapon has a detachable magazine that is associated with military weapons. The state formerly had a “two-feature” test that also factored in a gun that was semi-automatic.
Gun owners with weapons that will fall under this ban have one year to register the weapon with State Police from the bill’s effective date.
Queens senators immediately spoke to the success of the bill passing, promising that it would help make both the state and the borough safer against gun violence.
“As the first state in the nation to act on the need for more sensible gun laws following the horrific shootings in Webster, New York and Newtown, Connecticut,” said Senator Michael Gianaris. “New York is saying “enough” and establishing itself as a leader in the fight against the brutal gun culture plaguing our nation. An early advocate for more sensible gun laws, I am proud one of my proposals is included in the NY Safe Act, whose passage sets the bar for the rest of the country to save the lives of innocent people.”
Senator Jose Peralta said the passage was the first step in curbing gun violence and aiding police to fight crime. The next step, he said, was to push for micro stamping on weapons, which would help crime fighters track guns.
“We also need to make it easier for law enforcement to put gun criminals in jail by making use of available technology,” he said. “That’s why we need to enact microstamping legislation, which has the support of police and prosecutors throughout the state.”
Senator Malcolm Smith, who has pushed for tougher gun laws in wake of the violence last summer, said the bill was a bipartisan success as gun violence affects all New Yorkers, regardless of party or location.
“Gun violence is a problem that affects all of us, urban and rural, Republican and Democrat,” he said. “That’s why we worked so hard on a bipartisan basis to address this critical problem.”
Smith dedicated the bill’s passage to mothers and families in southeast Queens who have lost their sons to gun violence.
“I hope today’s vote provides some level of comfort to the grieving mothers – Donna Hood, Shanee Johnson, and the families of Lloyd Morgan, Kenneth Archbold all of whom lost a love one due to the use of illegal guns.”
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