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New York lawmakers approve new gun bill -- first since Newtown

January 15, 2013|By Tina Susman
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, speaks during a news conference announcing an agreement with legislative leaders on New York's Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act on Monday night. With him are Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz, left, and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, speaks during a news conference announcing… (Mike Groll/Associated…)

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- New York became the first state to take legislative action to combat gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre as the state Senate passed a bill that would crack down on assault weapons, ban high-capacity magazines and outlaw online sales of assault weapons.

The Democratic-controlled Assembly was expected to take up the bill, known as the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, on Tuesday.

Senate passage of the bill came late Monday, the one-month anniversary of the Newtown shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Hours before the New York lawmakers voted, President Obama held a news conference acknowledging that passage on the national level of new gun restrictions will be challenging. But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made clear he wants his state to be a launching pad for other states, and for Washington, to follow suit.

In a brief statement after the Senate voted 43-18 in favor of the bill, Cuomo said: "Tonight, the senators that voted for the NY SAFE Act of 2013 made a bold statement, coming together in a bipartisan, collaborative manner to meet the challenges that face our state and our nation, as we have seen far too many senseless acts of gun violence."

He specifically cited the Republican Senate leader, Dean Skelos, and the Democratic leader, Andrew Stewart-Cousins, for bridging partisan divides to agree on the bill, which when signed into law could give New York the strictest weapons laws in the country.

The law's main provisions include banning ammunition magazines of more than eight rounds, down from the current maximum limit of 10 rounds; adding restrictions to the definition of assault weapons to limit those that can be legally owned in the state; expanding required background checks for gun purchases; outlawing online assault weapon sales; and making it easier for weapons to be taken from mentally ill patients who have been identified by therapists as having made credible threats to use guns illegally. 

In addition, penalties for shooting police, firefighters or other emergency responders would be increased, a provision introduced to the legislation following the Christmas Eve shooting deaths of two firefighters who were ambushed in the New York town of Webster.

But Republican state Sen. Greg Ball opposed the bill, saying the only life it saved was "the political life" of Cuomo, "who wants to be president."

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