Governor Cuomo signed New York's new, tighter gun laws into effect at Rochester’s City Hall today.
“This law is going to make this stat a safer state,” Cuomo said.
Before signing the New York Safe Act which gives the state some of the toughest gun laws in the country, Cuomo said he hoped other states, and the federal government would follow New York’s lead.
Cuomo says this legislation is the result of learning from our mistakes, and learning from decades of tragedies, including the shootings in Connecticut and Webster.
“This was all common sense, and these were all lessons we should have learned a long time ago. And that’s what this law does, it just applies common sense.”
The new law, passed by the state legislature on Monday and Tuesday, will further limit the capacity of magazine clips, ban assault weapons, and expand background checks among other measures.
Rifles are considered “assault weapons” under the law if they are semiautomatic, have a detachable magazine, and have certain features including a flash suppressor, a pistol grip, a thumbhole stock, or a second handgrip for the non-trigger hand.
Cuomo has faced criticism over how quickly the legislation was passed, with opponents saying there was little discussion and no attempt to include public input.
Responding to criticism Wednesday, Cuomo said anyone who thought there had been no discussion around the matter had been “living on a different planet for decades.”
He said there had been enough talking, and it was time for government to act.
“There is nothing in this bill that hasn’t been discussed for years, and years, and years, and in truth the exact opposite is the fact. How many people have to die before government acts? How many more families have to grieve before government acts? How many more Websters have to happen before government acts? In my opinion enough innocent people have lost their lives, something has to be done.”
The Webster Provision
The SAFE Act also includes a Webster Provision created to honor the memory of Lt. Mike Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka who were gunned down when responding to a house fire in Webster on Christmas Eve.
Under the law, murder of a first responder who is engaged in their duties will incur a mandatory penalty of life in prison without parole.
“Common sense, protect the first responders. Protect your first responders,” Cuomo said in City Hall to applause and cheers from those gathered for the signing.
Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard said the legislation would give law enforcement the tools that they need to make the state a safer place.
“By signing the NY SAFE Act, Governor Cuomo and the legislature are taking a stand against gun violence and giving law enforcement that tools that we need to check weapon ownership, regulate ammunition sales and keep our state safe from senseless acts of violence.”
Not everyone is applauding the new law
Cuomo was met outside City Hall by protesters who say the new restrictions are an infringement of their rights.
Cuomo is a gun owner himself, and he says this is not about hunters or sport, but about crushing gun violence in New York state.
The Governor is also expected to receive some backlash from the mental health clause in the law that requires mental health professionals to report patients they believe are “likely to engage in conduct that will cause serious harm to themselves or others” to a state registry.
“People who are mentally ill, who are a danger to themselves or others, there is now a system for the first time to make sure that if they have guns and they’re a danger, they don’t have access to the guns,” Cuomo said.
The signing of the law came at the same time that President Obama proposed sweeping gun laws for the entire country that also include steps on mental health, as well as school safety and expanded background checks.
With the families of some of the 20 children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting looking on, Obama signed into law 23 executive orders not requiring congressional approval to tighten existing laws.
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