It appears all the discussion about gun control wasn't just talk, as New York state has now passed the nation's first new gun law since the Sandy Hook massacre.
In the wake the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, late last year, New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged action on broad gun control legislation. Both the majority-Republican Senate and the majority-Democratic Assembly passed the bill easily.
New York already had incredibly strong gun laws, but the new law will tighten the bans on certain kinds of weapons. The intent is to prevent high-fatality shootings.
The debates over gun control in the last month have often focused on the danger of assault weapons and high capacity magazines, reports NBC News. Many of the changes to New York's gun control law address that directly.
Some of the major new stipulations include:
- An assault weapons registry. New Yorkers will have to register assault weapons with the state. The law also changes the definition of "assault weapon." Previously it meant a weapon with two military-style features, but the new law changes the definition to weapons with just one of those features.
- Background checks for private assault-weapon sales. Private sales of assault weapons, except to immediate family members, would be subject to a background check.
- New rules for online assault-weapon sales and storage. The new law bans online sales of assault weapons and requires assault weapon owners to store their guns safely. Unsafe gun storage will now result in a misdemeanor charge.
- A ban on high-capacity gun clips. Magazines are now limited to seven bullets, as opposed to the previously allowed 10. Gun owners have a year to sell any higher-capacity magazines out of state, but they cannot use those magazines going forward. Being found with eight or more bullets in a magazine will result in a misdemeanor charge.
It's not just the purchase and sale of guns that will change in New York, according to Reuters. The new law also puts responsibilities on individuals for reporting instances of potential violence. For example:
- Stolen guns must be reported to police within 24 hours or the owner will face a misdemeanor charge.
- Mental health professionals will be required to report to officials if they believe a patient is a danger to himself or to others. If potential danger is reported, police will have the power to confiscate any guns owned by the patient.
That last provision is similar to one in Connecticut's gun control laws that allow police to confiscate weapons of anyone reported as potentially dangerous.
New York's gun law, called the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (or the NY SAFE Act of 2013), passed the Senate on Monday and the Assembly on Tuesday afternoon. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law quickly, so it can take immediate effect.