Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the first to successfully exploit the Newtown, Conn. tragedy to pass the most radical and pointless gun-control law of any state in the country. The most dramatic changes in New York will be to lower the limit on magazines from 10 to only seven rounds and a full ban on all so-called assault weapons.
The deal was crafted quickly and behind closed doors in Albany to maximize the urgency of the emotions from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and minimize input from groups representing gun owners. The first-term Democratic governor announced the legislative priority just last week and signed it into law Tuesday evening. The Democratic Assembly the bill Tuesday the bill 104-43, one day after the state Senate approved it 43-18.
While the state already bans semi-automatic rifles and shotguns that have two characteristics — unrelated to the function of the firearm — like a folding stock or pistol grip, the new law expands the ban to just one. That essentially makes illegal all rifles with cosmetic features that the politicians decide are scary.
The entire Empire State would adopt mandatory registration for every gun purchase, as is done by the police in New York City. Counties who grant lifetime gun permit would be forced to make them renewable every five years (with increasing fees.) Federal background checks would be instituted for even private gun sales. Albany would begin mandatory storage laws, similar to the ones struck down by the Supreme Court in the Heller decision in 2008.
Current owners of a now-certified “high capacity ammunition feeding device” — over 7 rounds — will have one year to sell or give them away out of state or face a class A misdemeanor charge. Dealers will have to start recording every ammunition sale with the buyer’s name, age, occupation and residence.
Gun retailers will have to record for the state police every sale that involves a firearm. The seller will have to record the buyer’s name, age, occupation and home address, along with the calibre, make, model, manufacturer’s name and serial number.
Although Mr. Cuomo said Monday that gun violence was a “scourge on society,” his new law has nothing to do with public safety. Of the 769 people murdered in New York in 2011, only five were by rifle of any type, one less than those killed by strangulation. The top methods of homicide, in order, were: handgun, cutting/stabbing, unknown weapon, unknown firearm, blunt instrument, and hands/fist.
This effort was backed by billionaire New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has been the guiding hand behind Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s recommendation for new gun laws on the national level. Those proposals are expected to be announced by President Obama later this week.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times. Her “Emily Gets Her Gun” series on the District’s gun laws won the 2012 Clark Mollenhoff Award for Investigative Reporting from the Institute on Political Journalism. Click here to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.