The shootings last month in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and Webster, New York were terrible tragedies which evoked outpourings of sadness and grief, but – more importantly – there has been a growing demand to end the gun violence.
Today, the New York State Legislature took an important step to that end by passing a first-in-the-nation law which gives us the strongest gun control policy in America.
The new law strengthens gun-control and safety regulations, increases criminal penalties for the illegal use of guns and ensures that those who may be a danger to themselves or others due to a mental illness do not have access to firearms. It would also require all people purchasing ammunition to undergo a state background check and present state-issued photo identification so that those with criminal weapons, illegal or unlicensed weapons do not have easy access to bullets.
The legislation we passed strengthens New York State’s existing assault weapons ban to prohibit weapons that include one or more of the features that increase the lethality of a semi-automatic weapon. Further tightening the law, a grandfather clause is added for owners of legal semi-automatic weapons provided they register them with the state police, recertify the registration every 5 years and undergo a background check.
Additionally, this law would remove a grandfather clause that exists under current law and ban all high-capacity ammunition clips with the capacity to hold more than 10 rounds. From this day forward, no clips with the capacity to hold more than 7 rounds can be sold.
This law would establish statewide standards for handgun-license applications and a statewide database of handgun licenses. This will enable state police to crosscheck the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to determine if any current licensees have been legally disqualified from possessing firearms under federal law.
The legislation we passed also addresses important mental-health issues. It will tighten Kendra’s Law – a 1999 law that provides for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) for certain people with mental illness. The new legislation will require mental-health professionals to report to law enforcement when they believe a person receiving mental-health services is a danger to themselves or others. Those who possess a firearm license would have their license revoked or suspended and be required to surrender their firearms.
Under this legislation, schools will be able to qualify for reimbursement of building aid assistance if they choose to add electronic systems and hardened doors to increase safety. This safety measure is of critical importance to keeping our kids safe in their classrooms.
While there is more still that we must do, after it is signed into law by the Governor, New York will have the strongest gun regulations in the country. The measures in the law will go a long way to securing all New Yorkers and making us a far safer state.