A state with some of the strictest gun laws in the nation appears poised to go even further in the wake of two recent mass shootings.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D.), along with the leadership of the state House and Senate, announced a sweeping list of new gun control proposals newly introduced in the state legislature on Tuesday. The ten bills seek to do everything from confiscating certain ammunition magazines and banning civilian body armor to requiring a theoretical tracking technology in all new pistols and expanding the use of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs).
“New York already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country but clearly we need to make them even stronger,” Governor Hochul said in a statement. “New Yorkers deserve to feel safe in schools, in grocery stores, in movie theaters, in shopping malls, and on our streets — and we must do everything in our power to protect them.”
The announcement of the legislative crackdown comes on the heels of two of the most devastating mass shootings in recent history. It arrives just one week after a gunman took the lives of 19 students and two adults at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. That attack followed an incident earlier this month in which an active shooter killed ten people at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York in a racially-motivated attack.
New York’s legislative response to the attacks could set the standard for other states looking to pass new gun restrictions, especially those controlled by Democrats.
A push for new gun laws has been expected in New York since the Buffalo shooting which revealed the limitations of the state’s “red flag” law and “assault weapons” ban. Earlier this month, Governor Hochul issued an executive order directing the New York State Police to issue ERPOs when they encounter an individual they have probable cause to believe may be a threat. The announced legislation appears to expand on her executive order and then some.
One bill would expand who can file an ERPO petition to include health care practitioners who have examined the individual within the last six months. The law currently allows police, family members, or school officials to file a petition.
Other proposed measures would require that an individual obtain a license, with a minimum age of 21, to purchase a semiautomatic rifle, confiscate ammunition magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds, expand the state definition of firearm to include weapons equipped with pistol braces, prohibit the purchase of body armor for anyone who is not engaged in an “eligible profession”, and require microstamping for all new handgun sales once the state decides that the technology is feasible.
The microstamping requirement is similar to one imposed by California where new handgun models can not be sold unless they have a component that imprints a unique identifier on every spent shell casing. However, since no company in the world manufactures a gun equipped with microstamping capabilities, California has not approved a single new handgun model for sale since it certified the technology was “viable” in 2013. The New York proposal would represent an expansion of the California law by not allowing any new handguns without microstamping capabilities to be sold in the state after state officials determine the technology is “viable.”
Despite announcing the ambitious slate of new gun laws, Hochul concluded by calling on Congress to take up new action on gun control.
“As New York once again leads, we continue to urge the federal government to seize this opportunity and pass meaningful national gun violence prevention laws,” she said.
Measures that would make it a crime to threaten mass harm, establish a “Task Force on Social Media and Violent Extremism” in the Attorney General’s office, and require social media companies in New York to provide a policy for dealing with “hateful conduct” on their platforms were also introduced.