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The Times
  • Gun control bill passes NYS Legislature

  • New York’s Assembly on Tuesday easily passed the toughest gun control law in the nation and the first since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, calling for a tougher assault weapons ban and provisions to try to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed for the bill, which passed the Senate on Monday night.

    He quickly signed the measure into law.

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  • New York’s Assembly on Tuesday easily passed the toughest gun control law in the nation and the first since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, calling for a tougher assault weapons ban and provisions to try to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats.
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed for the bill, which passed the Senate on Monday night.
    He quickly signed the measure into law.
    Assemblyman Marc Butler, R - Newport, accused Cuomo of issuing the bill “by fiat” instead of a democratic process that should have included time for public hearings and debate. Cuomo had issued an order that suspended the three days’ public review for bills required under the state constitution.
    “We’re trampling on our constitutional rights,” Butler said in Tuesday’s floor debate. “We have reached a point in our history where government has gone too far in every aspect of our lives.”
    Cuomo on Monday called assault weapons “a scourge on society” six days after making gun control a centerpiece of his agenda in his State of the State address. The bipartisan effort was fueled by the Newtown tragedy that took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators.
    The measure also calls for restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns.
    “For the first time, New York will be registering rifles and confiscating private property. We will do background checks on the simple purchase of a box of .22 ammo for squirrel hunting or target practice. Someone who puts eight cartridges in his magazine instead of seven will be a felon. Sadly, these extreme, harsh measures won’t stop criminals from getting guns and using them for illegal purposes,” state Senator James Seward, R - Milford, said in a statement Monday.
    “These reactionary laws force new, onerous regulations on those who meticulously obey the law and infringe on Second Amendment rights. Further, we can’t afford to place good paying jobs at a long-standing employer in my district, Remington Arms, in jeopardy,” he added.
    The village of Ilion spent Monday rallying to protect Remington Arms, a gun company that employs about 1,250 people and makes some of the types of assault weapons used in the recent shootings.
    The United Mine Workers of America, the union that represents workers at the manufacturer, on Monday said they are concerned jobs may be lost as a result of a weapons ban. They sent letters to every assemblyperson and senator in Albany asking them to think about the jobs before voting, and traveled to the Capitol to lobby against the gun control law that passed the Assembly 104 - 43.
    “Herkimer County is synonymous with Remington Arms. If this vote goes through, it could cost us 1,200 jobs, if not more due to all the businesses that do business with Remington,” Herkimer County Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono, R - Schuyler, said Monday evening. “I hope the people who vote for this legislation have a plan for the people are who going to be displaced by this action. This is something we are taking very seriously. It would crush this county to lose Remington.”
    Page 2 of 3 - Under current state law, assault weapons are defined by having two “military rifle” features, such as folding stock, muzzle flash suppresser or bayonet mount. The proposal would reduce that to one feature, including the popular pistol grip. The language specifically targeted the military-style rifle used in the Newtown shootings. Current owners of those guns will have to register them.
    Private sales of assault weapons to someone other than an immediate family would be subject to a background check through a dealer. New Yorkers also would be barred from buying assault weapons over the Internet, and failing to safely store a weapon could lead to a misdemeanor charge.
    Ammunition magazines would be restricted to seven bullets, from the current 10, and current owners of higher-capacity magazines would have a year to sell them out of state. An owner caught at home with eight or more bullets in a magazine could face a misdemeanor charge. Stores that sell ammunition will have to register with the state, run background checks on buyers of bullets and keep an electronic database of bullet sales. In another provision, a therapist who believes a mental health patient made a credible threat to use a gun illegally would be required to report it to a mental health director who would have to notify the state. A patient’s gun could be taken from him or her.
    The legislation also increases sentences for gun crimes including the shooting of a first responder that Cuomo called the “Webster provision.” Last month in the western New York town of Webster, two firefighters were killed after responding to a fire set by the shooter, who eventually killed himself.
    The measure passed the Senate 43 - 18 on the strength of support from Democrats.
    The governor confirmed the proposal, previously worked out in closed session, also would mandate a police registry of assault weapons, grandfathering in assault weapons already in private hands.
    It was agreed upon exactly a month since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.
    “The issue of gun control was brought up because our children and first responders were targeted and assaulted by mentally-deranged and dangerous individuals. The governor and his legislative accomplices are implementing their gun-grab with immediacy, banning sales and enacting magazine capacity restrictions. Where are the measures to protect our school children? Where are the measures to provide care for those who suffer from mental illness ...,” said Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R - New Hartford, in a statement. “... My friends and neighbors are being denied an important facet of their culture, heritage, fundamental rights and in the case of those families connected to Remington Arms, their means of employment.”
    Cuomo said he wanted quick action to avoid a run on assault weapons and ammunition.
    He estimates there are already about 1 million assault weapons in New York state.
    Page 3 of 3 - “This bill not only falls short of its most basic objectives to keep people safe from those who wish to harm them, but works to infringe upon our Second Amendment rights and, especially in the Mohawk Valley, threatens the livelihood of families who are employed by Remington Arms,” said Butler. “In the governor’s eagerness to gain notoriety and be the first state to adopt stricter gun laws, we’ve lost so much, namely our rights, our voices and even our security.”
    “Legislation focused on stopping gun crimes and preventing those at risk of harming themselves and others from obtaining firearms would have been a public safety win. However, further impeding the rights of law-abiding citizens does nothing to confront gun violence,” said Seward.
    ———
    Contributing: Associated Press

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