Assemblyman Steve Otis (D-Rye) announced passage of landmark gun-safety legislation that will help stem the devastating cycle of gun violence in New York State. One month after the horrific massacre of innocent schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, Assemblyman Otis voted in favor of comprehensive measures to strengthen the State’s existing gun control and safety laws.
“We need to make access to weapons of mass killing far more difficult than it is today,” said Otis. “The focus of this legislation on assault weapons, high capacity magazines, background checks and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill helps address this difficult public safety issue.”
“ I support the right of individuals to own firearms, to hunt and target shoot, but those rights should not include weapons capable of mass killing which put the public and members of law enforcement at great risk,” the Assemblyman added. “This legislation balances the rights of lawful gun owners with our responsibility to protect our children, our first responders and all law-abiding citizens in the State. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this critical public safety issue.”
The bill strengthens New York’s existing assault weapons ban to prohibit the sale of weapons that include features that increase a semi-automatic weapon’s lethal capacity. It would also ban all high capacity ammunition clips, limiting sales to 7-round clips. The new law would further require individuals purchasing ammunition to undergo a background check and present state-issued photo identification. Owners of firearms who are identified by mental health professionals to be a danger to themselves or to others would have their gun licenses revoked and be required to surrender their firearms. The legislation also includes a registration procedure to grandfather individuals who currently own semi-automatic weapons that can no longer be sold in New York State.
The legislation also strengthens the criminal penalties for the illegal use of guns, specifically increasing the penalty for having a gun on school grounds and for injuring a child with a gun. In the wake of the recent murders of first responders in Webster, New York, the bill defines the killing of a first responder as aggravated murder, carrying a sentence of life without parole. Other provisions include stronger regulation of ammunition sales and improved safe storage provisions.
The measure passed the Senate on January 14. Assemblyman Otis supported the legislation when it passed the Assembly on January 15th and was a co-sponsor of the bill in that house. Governor Cuomo signed the legislation into law about an hour after it passed the Assembly.
“It would be naïve to believe that we can legislate away all senseless acts of gun violence,” said Otis, “but we must act to protect our citizens from weapons whose only purpose is to kill as many human beings as possible as quickly as possible. This comprehensive legislation is aimed at accomplishing that goal.”