Gun control deal includes licenses for semiautomatic rifles in New York

Nick Reisman

May 31, 2022

Originally published in Spectrum News on May 31, 2022.

A sweeping gun control package is set to pass in the coming days in New York following a pair of mass shootings that have rocked the nation, Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers on Tuesday announced.  

At the centerpiece of the plan is a bill that would require licenses for semiautomatic rifles going forward and that licenseholders be at least 21 years of age.

The measures are part of a 10-bill package of gun control bills, being put before lawmakers after two mass shootings in the course of 10 days in May: A shooter killed 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket, followed by the killing of 19 children and two teachers an elementary school in Texas. 

Supporters of stricter gun control laws celebrated the agreement as a major step toward keeping New Yorkers safer. But opponents insisted the measures would have no beneficial effect, and urged lawmakers to instead focus their efforts on why people commit mass murders. 

In Buffalo, the 18-year-old alleged shooter used an AR-15-style rifle. In Texas, an 18-year-old man is alleged to have used a handgun and rifle.

On the national level, President Joe Biden has urged Congress to take up new gun control measures, but those efforts have stalled in Washington. 

"The federal government, if we left it to them, we wouldn't be able to agree whether the sun rises tomorrow," said state Sen. Kevin Thomas, a Long Island Democrat who is sponsoring the changes to have semiautomatic rifles licensed. "That's why the states need to step up. These are states rights, we need to step up for our citizens here."

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