New York enacts gun-control law

2013-01-16 08:31

New York - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed into law one of the nation's toughest gun-control measures and the first to be enacted since the mass shooting last month at an elementary school in neighbouring Connecticut.

The bill passed the Democratic-led Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, a day after sprinting through the Republican-majority Senate. State lawmakers have been in session for just a matter of days.

New York's legislation comes just a day before President Barack Obama is expected to propose a national assault weapons ban and improved background checks as part of a sweeping package of initiatives to curb gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Twenty 6- and 7-year-old schoolchildren and six educators were killed in the Dec. 14 attack, when a man burst into their school in Newtown, about 112km northeast of New York City, and opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon.

The Sandy Hook shooting plunged the nation into grief and reignited the gun-control debate.

Cuomo acted swiftly following that attack and another 10 days later in Webster, New York, a suburb of Rochester, that claimed the lives of two volunteer fire-fighters. The new law mandates a life sentence without parole for anyone who murders a first responder, the so-called "Webster Provision".

With some provisions due to take effect immediately, the legislation expands the state's ban on assault weapons, puts limits on ammunition capacity and has new measures to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

"People who are mentally ill should not have access to guns, that's common sense," Cuomo said at a signing ceremony in Albany. "That's probably the hallmark of this bill, coming up with a system that allows for mental-health screens."

Gun control schemes

The measure limits magazine capacity to no more than seven cartridges - the current limit is 10 cartridges - and requires a statewide re-registration of all handguns and grandfathered assault weapons.

"Seven bullets in a gun, why? Because the high-capacity magazines that give you the capacity to kill a large number of human beings in a very short period of time is nonsensical to a civil society," Cuomo said.

Police have said the gunman in Newtown, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, carried numerous high-capacity magazines and that he changed gun clips several times, allowing him to unleash at least 150 rounds in his 10-minute assault.

Gun rights advocates lashed out at Cuomo and New York's law, decrying the speed at which the legislation moved through the statehouse.

"The National Rifle Association and our New York members are outraged at the draconian gun control bill that was rushed through the process late on Monday evening," the NRA, the nation's most powerful gun rights lobby group, said in a statement.

"These gun control schemes have failed in the past and will have no impact on public safety and crime," the NRA said.

Also on Tuesday in Danbury, Connecticut, not far from Newtown, gun control advocates gathered for a rally outside a Walmart store to demand Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the nation's largest gun retailer, stop selling assault weapons.

Among those at the rally were Lori Haas, whose daughter was injured in the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, and Pam Simon, who was wounded in the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that also critically injured former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Stronger background checks

The killings in Newtown, a rural New England town of 27 000, shocked the country and prompted Obama to form a task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden to find ways to curb gun violence. Obama is scheduled to unveil the recommendations on Wednesday.

Obama has signalled he will ask Congress to ban military-style assault weapons, require stronger background checks for buyers and put tighter controls on high-capacity magazine clips.

Opponents of the New York legislation argued it would not prevent an attack like Newtown from occurring in New York and also would not bring down the state's homicide rate because so few murders are committed with rifles of any kind.

Assemblyman Raymond Walter, a Republican from upstate New York, said New York's violent crime statistics show the state has a murder rate of just four people per 100 000, but "rifles account for .03 of that."

Were comparable legislation in place in Connecticut, "it would not have stopped that horrible and tragic crime", said Assemblyman Joseph Saladino, a Republican from Long Island.

The new legislation would also increase monitoring of high-volume ammunition purchases, in-person or over the Internet, and current owners of assault weapons would be required to register them, as is required with handguns.

This week, officials in Maryland and Delaware also vowed to press for their own state legislation to tighten bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Included in the New York law is an exemption allowing gun permit holders to opt to have their identities kept private, a measure that comes after the White Plains, New York-based Journal News published the names of thousands of local license-holders.

  • sean.bagley.50 - 2013-01-16 09:04

    Nobody said American Laws made any sense other than Americans themselves.Congress proposals for new regulations won't effect crime.And that's because a large percentage of semi-automatic rifle owners just won't register their weapons.It's a slippery slope you going on here sir,mr president Obama,and if any American that suffers an attack and henceforth cannot defend him/herself because of the new gun laws,then he/she should be the first to sue Congress if indeed these proposals goes into effect.Also can Americans make sure that none of President Obama's bodyguards carries with them assault rifles if you please. 40,000 Americans die annually in car accidents,does that mean you've got to stop people from driving their cars now from A to B?Some Americans die from even falling off their own beds whilst being fast asleep.So what are you gonna do about that?The 2nd Amendment was put in place to stop Americans from a certain thing called -dictatorships.Why in Nazi Germany did only the police and the Army ever have guns at the time?Didn't anyone ever watch Schindler's List?Even the French revolution all started exactly because of the State having far too much control over the people and the Americans still think the Federal Government has the power above all else.

      michael.taylorw - 2013-01-16 09:37

      I beg to differ. Australia today has arguably some of the most restrictive firearms legislation in the world.[citation needed] Currently, about 5.2% of Australian adults (765,000 people)[1] own and use firearms for purposes such as hunting, controlling feral animals, collecting, and target shooting. The proportion of armed robberies using firearms has decreased steadily from 1995: 28% to 2000: 14%. Homicide rates in Australia per 100 000 is 1.8, where as in America it is 9.1 I can throw stats all day. More guns give more opportunities to use them. We had a robbery here in Melbourne the other day where the guy used a baseball bat to threaten the guy behind the counter. Youth crimes committed with firearms are 100000% higher in America. (exaggerated, but it is a huge difference)Now you can be sure that if guns where as easy to get as they are in the states, he would have used a gun instead. A local woolies was robbed by a gang wielding kitchen knives here also. Now imagine they had easy access to guns. The facts are, in one year of living in Australia, I have seen one incident in the news involving guns, and that is when police shot a car thief. (although I barely watch tv, and the newspapers are way to boring so i may have missed a few)

      citizen.kane.35 - 2013-01-16 09:38

      why do ordinary citizens need semi automatic weapons? Ban them outright, citizens have the right to bear arms, a handgun for self defence is adequate especially since they are all high capacity these days 17-19 rounds, hunters need single shot bolt action weapons, no need for semi autos's at all.everyone needs to be vetted same as here in SA.. The problem comes in when no vetting is done and no 'cool off' period is applied for weapons licencing.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2013-01-16 10:08

      Michael, your story about the gang with the kitchen knives proves that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Any weapon is deadly, if the gang wanted to kill they could have, using the kitchen knives. Do you now want a ban on kitchen knives? I fully agree with the NY legislation. No one needs a high capacity magazine, or an assault rifle, for that matter. - 2013-01-16 10:27

      Gun control only makes sense to paranoid people who have no idea that the gun does not pull the trigger. As far as they are concerned it is the guns fault and we can legislate criminals and the deranged into better behaviour if we restrict law-abiding people. Nobody said they could use the brains they have, fear over-rides common sense.

  • kseyffert - 2013-01-16 09:09

    And so the US takes another step towards Dictatorship. Congratulations!

  • flysouth - 2013-01-16 09:43

    The logic of these gun grabbers is crazy and beyond belief! "NY has a murder rate of just four people per 100 000, but 'rifles account for .03 of that.'" Assuming that 0.3 means .03%, then for gawd's sake why is anyone bothering about 'rifles' in the first place - what implement or tool accounts for 99.97% of murders and why is this fact not revealed here? Why not target those murder weapons be they hammer, axes etc? Of course we know their logic which is not logic at all and that is why appeals to logic fail to make any impression on these people. Their goal is a mad utopia, a place and condition which cannot exist and has never existed in all of human history where the police are able to actually offer protection of life and limb to all citizens. This of course can never be promised and is expressly not promised by any police force worldwide - they have stated that they are they to pick up the pieces afterwards, and maybe if lucky and someone gives them a hot tip, arrest the killer! I do hop that New York's gun owners remember this action of Cuomo at next election - there will be many of them and they must not never forget who is their enemy when it comes time to vote. Before that though I think the 're-registration' demand in this legislation is going to backfire big time on Cuomo. - 2013-01-16 10:35

      It has nothing to do with guns, it is about control. Gun control has never ever produced one single provable success in the worlds history. Many studies have shown the complete failure of all gun control laws and interventions have failed totally to produce a reduction of crime, the supply guns to criminals or increase public safety. The extent of published studies was taken into account and examined. Not one success. Even the CDC a gun control propaganda factory could not find one success. Success of gun control does not exist outside of the mind of paranoid people who are afraid of guns and not afraid of oppressing people or helping criminals as long as we have less guns. - 2013-01-16 14:44

      It's a done deal passed.

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