Albany Democrats are slated to pass legislation this week imposing new restrictions on semi-automatic rifles, bullet-proof vests and large-capacity magazines following deadly mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas.
“New York already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country but clearly we need to make them even stronger. New Yorkers deserve to feel safe in schools, in grocery stores, in movie theaters, in shopping malls and on our streets,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a release on the measures.
One of 10 bills included in the package reflect her push to ban sales of semi-automatic rifles to people under age 21 despite a recent federal court ruling that overturned such a law in California.
“Anything is possible, but we are here to move forward with this first step,” bill sponsor state Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Long Island) said of possible legal challenges. New Yorkers would also have to get licenses to buy or come into possession of semi-automatic rifles under the proposal, similar to current state requirements to have a handgun. California and a handful of other states already have similar laws on the books.
That proposal is one of several bills that are direct responses to the Buffalo massacre where an alleged teen white supremacist used a legally purchased semi-automatic rifle, a bullet-proof vest and illegal, high-capacity magazines to deadly effect.
The bill package also includes proposals aimed at other types of gun crimes by expanding the definition of “firearm” and laying the groundwork to require microstamping tech in new handguns to help match specific weapons with discharged cartridges.
Other proposals aim to better monitor online extremism and increase reporting of illegal gun seizures.
Democrats say the package contains necessary fixes to help prevent future tragedies before the scheduled end of the 2022 legislative session on June 2.
Thomas defended his proposal Tuesday by saying that it was a necessary measure based on what was already known about recent mass shootings.
“They will always say we are infringing on their rights, you know, that we are trying to take away their guns, but this is common sense gun safety legislation that we’re pushing forward. After Buffalo, we have to do this,” the Long Island Democrat said.