A month after the Newtown shooting, New York became the first state to respond legislatively by passing the strictest gun control law in the nation.
On Tuesday, Jan. 15, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013, which will make New York the first state in the country to completely ban all pre-1994 high-capacity magazines, ban any magazine that can hold more than seven rounds (down from a limit of 10) and conduct real-time background checks of ammunition purchases to alert authorities of high-volume buyers.
“The new law will limit gun violence through common sense, reasonable reforms that include addressing the risks posed by mentally ill people who have access to guns and banning high capacity magazines and lethal assault weapons,” Gov. Cuomo said in a press release Tuesday. “This legislation is not about hunters, sportsmen, or legal owners who use their guns appropriately. It is about reducing gun violence and making New York a safer place to live. I thank leadership of both the Assembly and Senate for their action on this important legislation.”
The bill passed in the state Senate on Monday by a vote of 43-18 and in the Assembly on Tuesday by a vote of 104-43. Democratic Assemblyman David Buchwald, whose 93rd District includes Lewisboro and Katonah, voted for the bill.
“When I ran for office, one of my top priorities was ensuring the safety of our families and our community,” Mr. Buchwald said in a press release after the bill passed the Assembly. “As we’ve seen in recent tragedies, the consequences of dangerous weapons falling into the wrong hands are too great to ignore. These new gun-safety measures will severely inhibit dangerous criminals from gaining access to firearms, expand truly universal background checks on guns and ammunition, and ban dangerous assault weapons. I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure our community in Westchester is a safe place to raise a family. I am proud of the work we did in the legislature today.”
Republican state Sen. Greg Ball, whose 40th District includes Lewisboro and Katonah, voted against the legislation.
“We needed solid provisions to keep the violently, mentally ill from harming our communities, our kids and our families. That didn’t happen tonight,” Sen. Ball said in a press release on Monday after the Senate passed the bill. “While much in this bill, as far as stiffer penalties for real criminals and help on the mental health front is good, the last minute push, in the middle of the night without critical public input from sportsmen and taxpayers was outrageous and forced members to vote on a bill they had not read. While I’m glad we won on many fronts, including my permit privacy legislation against The Journal News, I simply cannot support a bill that turns law abiding citizens into criminals by creating an entire new category of illegal firearms out of currently legal rifles and shotguns.”
After The Journal News released a controversial map of gun-permit owners in Westchester and Rockland counties, state legislators included a provision in the bill that allows gun-permit owners to keep information such as their names and addresses private.
The bill lays out a stricter definition of assault weapons and immediately bans them. Under the new definition, semiautomatic pistols and rifles with detachable magazines and one military-style feature will be considered assault weapons, as will semiautomatic shotguns with one military-style feature.
People who already own assault weapons must have them registered within a year and recertified every five years.
Owners of grandfathered assault weapons may sell them only out of state or through an in-state federal firearms licensee.
The limit on high-capacity magazines has also been reduced from 10 rounds to seven.
The bill also bans possession of pre-1994 high-capacity magazines and requires owners to sell the banned magazines out of state within a year.
Universial background checks for gun purchases have also been implemented, as well as tougher penalties for illegal gun use.
The bill also requires mental health professionals to alert authorities when there is reason to believe patients are likely to cause serious harm to themselves or others.
If the patient owns a gun, the license will be suspended and authorities will be able to remove the patient’s gun.