New York presses measures to tighten gun control laws

Customers view semi automatic guns on display at a gun shop.

New York was poised on Tuesday to become the first state to approve broad gun control legislation since the Connecticut school massacre in December, including an expanded ban on assault weapons and limits on ammunition capacity.

The majority Republican state Senate voted 43-18 to advance a bill that Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined on Monday following the deaths of 20 students and six adults in a shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in neighboring Connecticut.

The action in New York came the same day that Maryland’s governor and Delaware’s attorney general said they would press for legislation in their states to tighten bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Gun control has been at the center of U.S. politics, once again, since the Connecticut massacre. The assault rifle used in the attack is based on a military rifle and can be equipped with magazines that hold up to 30 rounds of ammunition.

The Senate “made a bold statement, coming together in a bipartisan, collaborative manner to meet the challenges that face our state and our nation, as we have seen far too many senseless acts of gun violence,” Cuomo said after the vote.

The state assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, was expected to take up the bill on Tuesday.

NO IMPACT ON HUNTERS

New York already has among the toughest gun control laws in the country and the proposal tightens an assault weapons ban to include semiautomatic weapons with detachable clips that have one feature associated with military weapons.

The state currently bans assault weapons that have two military-style features.

The proposal also limits magazine capacity to no more than seven cartridges, and requires a statewide re-registration of all handguns and grandfathered-in assault weapons.

It also would require mental health professionals to report dangerous patients to county mental health officers for potential action and would add provisions to suspend or revoke licenses for people found to pose a danger to others.

“I believe it is the most comprehensive package in the nation,” Cuomo told reporters in a briefing, adding, “Much of this is common sense. Unfortunately, common sense has eluded us for many, many years when it comes to this issue.”

Cuomo said the proposal was not directed at and would have no impact on hunters or sport shooters.

Cuomo said last week that the current ban on assault weapons had so many loopholes that it was unenforceable. For example, current law bans magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, but exempts those made before 1994.

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.

Also on Monday, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden joined other state leaders in announcing gun control proposals while his father, Democratic U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, was preparing national gun control proposals.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, said on Monday he would propose a tighter ban on assault weapons and certain magazines later this week.


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