On Tuesday, pro-gun control lawmakers in the Empire State claimed victory when the state Assembly passed what has been described as the “toughest gun control bill in the nation” by a vote of 104-43.
Before reaching the Assembly, the GOP-controlled Senate voted the measure through late Monday night, 43-18.
The legislation, heavily backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo who rushed the bill through both chambers by waving the typical three-day waiting period between the introduction of the bill and a vote, is the first enacted following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT.
As highlighted by the Associated Press, the bill makes the following changes to the law:
—Further restrict assault weapons to define them by a single feature, such as a pistol grip. Current law requires two features.
—Make the unsafe storage of assault weapons a misdemeanor.
—Mandate a police registry of assault weapons.
—Establish a state registry for all private sales, with a background check done through a licensed dealer for a fee, excluding sales to immediate relatives.
—Require a therapist who believes a mental health patient made a credible threat to use a gun illegally to report the threat to a mental health director who would then have to report serious threats to the state Department of Criminal Justice Services. A patient’s gun could be taken from him or her.
—Ban the Internet sale of assault weapons.
—Require stores that sell ammunition to register with the state, run background checks on buyers of bullets and keep an electronic database of bullet sales.
—Restrict ammunition magazines to seven bullets, from the current national standard of 10. Current owners of higher-capacity magazines would have a year to sell them out of state. Someone caught with eight or more bullets in a magazine could face a misdemeanor charge.
—Require that stolen guns be reported within 24 hours. Otherwise, the owner would face a possible misdemeanor.
—Increase sentences for gun crimes including for taking a gun on school property.
—Increase penalties for shooting first responders, called the “Webster provision.” Two firefighters were killed when shot by a person who set a fire in the western New York town of Webster last month. The crime would be punishable by life in prison without parole.
—Limit the state records law to protect handgun owners from being identified publicly. The provision would allow a handgun permit holder a means to maintain privacy under the Freedom of Information law.
—Require pistol permit holders or those who will be registered as owners of assault rifles to be recertified at least every five years to make sure they are still legally able to own the guns.
“This is a scourge on society,” said Gov. Cuomo on Monday night, referencing guns and the Newtown tragedy in an attempt to gin up support for the bill. “At what point do you say, `No more innocent loss of life.”‘
After signing the bill into law on Tuesday, within an hour of its ratification by the Assembly, Cuomo who is a self-described gun owner, said “You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and common sense.”
Many of those lawmakers who supported this comprehensive package were confident that it did not infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. One lawmaker, Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx), argued that the bill should be used as a template for the entire nation.
“This is not about taking anyone’s rights away,” said Klein on Monday. “It’s about a safe society … today we are setting the mark for the rest of the county to do what’s right.”
Of course, critics of the legislation strongly disagreed, stating that not only does it curtail the rights of responsible gun owners, but it also creates the illusion of safety and a false sense of security.
“You are using innocent children killed by a mad man for own political agenda,” said Republican Assemblyman James Tedisco. “You are actually making people less safe.”
“The Legislature caved to the political demands of a governor and helped fuel his personal political aspirations,” said the nation’s favorite gun lobby. “New York lawmakers have ignored and excluded gun owners throughout this legislative process, but the N.R.A. and our New York members remain committed to having a meaningful conversation about protecting our children and will speak frankly about the lawmakers who have failed to do so.”
As depressing as the bill may appear to gun-loving New Yorkers, there is one silver lining. That is, no longer can The Journal News – or any other media outlet for that matter – publish the names of concealed carry permit holders (see provision that is second from the bottom on the AP’s list).
One will recall that after Sandy Hook, the left-leaning New York City-based publication created interactive maps containing the names and addresses of gun owners in several counties surrounding the Big Apple. Needless to say, the decision to put the lives of CCW permit holders in jeopardy caused quite the stir.
“As a community we stood firm on principle and fought for common sense against the idiocy of the Journal News. Tonight we have won a big battle against their unwarranted invasion of privacy,” GOP Sen. Greg Ball said in a statement. “… I am personally grateful that the Journal News will never be able to do something as dangerous and idiotic as this again.”
Tomorrow, President Obama will unveil his 2013 gun control agenda.
Photo Credit: Fox News