The 20 million New Yorkers and their descendants who remain in the Empire State lost a lot of liberty on Monday as Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a 10-pack of gun control legislation rushed to her desk. 

Hochul, a Democrat who served as Andrew Cuomo's lieutenant governor for six years until he resigned under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations, this week removed lots of the hard-fought concessions won by Republicans and gun rights advocates in Cuomo's knee-jerk and controversial NY SAFE Act in 2013. 

"In New York, we're taking bold steps to protect the people of our state," said Hochul in an hour-long public signing ceremony in the Bronx, crowded with career politicians and gun control advocates. "I am proud to sign a comprehensive bill package that prohibits the sale of semiautomatic weapons to people under 21, bans body armor sales outside of people in select professions, closes critical gun law loopholes and strengthens our Red Flag Law to keep guns away from dangerous people – new measures that I believe will save lives."

As noted by the NRA, "Anti-gun Democrats in Albany jammed through the massive gun control package in less than 48 hours. Republicans in both chambers went to the microphone and asked tough questions to illustrate the fatal flaws and shortcomings in all of these bills. Majority Democrats simply wouldn’t hear of it. This is all very similar to how the SAFE Act was done. It was passed quickly at night, ignoring public input."

The bills, forwarded to Hochul by the Democrat-controlled state legislature: 

  • Raising the minimum age to purchase semiautomatic rifles to 21 (S.9458/A.10503)
  • Banning body armor to anyone not employed by police or security/guard services (S.9407-B/A.10497)
  • Allowing medical professionals to seek "red flag law" gun seizure orders (S.9113-A/A.10502)
  • Microstamping pistols – a measure seen by pro-gun groups as a slow-motion gun ban (S.4116-A/A.7926-A)
  • Banning pistols with arm braces (S.9456/A.10504)
  • Eliminating the grandfathering of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds (S.9229-A/A.10428-A)
  • Creating the crime of "making a threat of mass harm" (S.89-B/A.6716-A)
  • Creating a new "Task Force on Social Media and Violent Extremism" (S.9465/A.10501)
  • Mandating social media networks in New York to report and work with the above (S.4511-A/A.7865-A)
  • Banning those under 18 and not accompanied by a parent from entering certain locations of a gun dealer's premises and requiring expanded reporting to state and federal gun databases. (S.4970-A/A.1023-A)

In addition to the bills, Hochul signed two executive orders and a referral to state Attorney General on the intersection between social media and gun policy. This includes requiring State Police to gun seizure orders under the state's Red Flag Law much more often and to establish a dedicated squad within the New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC) to "track domestic violent extremism through social media."

National gun control groups on hand for the signing included Brady, Everytown, and Giffords. The activists welcomed the new laws and, in some cases, saw them as something that can be repeated on a national scale. 

"This is a historic day for New York and just the latest example of the state leading the nation in enacting common-sense and bold gun violence prevention laws," said Brady President Kris Brown. "Her leadership is an example to the country, and we applaud the legislature, Governor Hochul, and the many local and grassroots advocates who have supported these policies and ensured that they become law."

Banner image: The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island, 8/24/2017. Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

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