Governor Kathy Hochul signed a 10-bill package into law on Monday to enact sweeping reforms to New York’s gun control laws.
The most significant measures include raising the age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21, banning body armor, requiring microstamping for new guns and expanding who can file an Extreme Risk Protection Order.
Passing stricter gun laws was possible because Democrats have a firm majority in the NYS Assembly and Senate. Gun reform at the federal level, however, could be a harder sell.
Sen. Gillibrand outlines challenges at the federal level
The legislation was signed in response to the mass shootings that happened at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo and at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. According to NPR, at least 240 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. since the start of 2022.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stopped in Syracuse on Monday, June 6. She expressed support for New York’s new gun laws during her visit while also acknowledging the challenges that come with passing gun reform at the federal level.
“Every time a stray-bullet hits somebody, a child, an innocent, a bystander, those are preventable gun deaths. Because most of those guns…90% of guns used in crimes in New York State come from out of state, illegally trafficked here to people who could never buy them with regular background check systems,” said Sen. Gillibrand, according to CNY Central.
She continued by saying that major changes to federal law- like universal background checks, a ban on assault rifles and an anti-gun trafficking law- would need 52 Democrats in the Senate to become a reality.
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Gun rights group leader says NY’s new laws won’t stop mass shootings
Tom King, executive director of the NYS Rifle and Pistol Association, thinks the state’s new laws will do little to prevent future mass shootings.
“If someone wants to go perpetrate these violent crimes, they will do it. They are not going to allow a law that the New York State legislature passes that Kathy Hochul signs into law, they’re not going to let that stop them,” said King, according to CNY Central.
King cites bail reform laws as one reason for increased crime. He said stronger punishments for those who make violent threats or commit violent crimes are needed, as well as more state resources devoted to addressing the mental health crisis.
One of the bills signed on Monday established the crimes of making a threat of mass harm and aggravated threat of mass harm.