New York has become the first state to dramatically stiffen its gun laws after last month's shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. Zack Fink has the details.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Although Governor Andrew Cuomo says there was no specific timetable for getting the gun control legislation passed, New York State now becomes the first in the nation to pass stricter gun laws in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings.
Cuomo said, "Let's at least be able to say to people yes, we went through terrible situations. But we saw, we learned, we responded and we acted. We are doing something about it. We are not victims."
The comprehensive bill enacts an immediate ban on assault weapons, defined as guns with detachable magazines. This expands on New York State's 1994 ban, which had loopholes. It also limits magazines to seven rounds instead of ten and imposes new more rigorous background checks.
"Look, there is always more that can be done, but this was a pretty ambitious proposal and it achieved a lot of what senate democrats have been trying to, so for several years, whether it’s restrictions on assault weapons or requiring background checks," said Senate Deputy Minority Leader Michael Gianaris.
The legislation passed the Senate late Monday night without debate. It passed the Assembly on Tuesday after more than four hours of debate.
"Well New Yorkers are no safer, just like every other law that has been passed. Harvard has done a study, the CDC has done a study, gun control laws don't work because all they hamper law abiding citizens. The criminals, of course, don't care," Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin said.
Although not a single Republican attended the governor's signing ceremony Tuesday, members of the GOP took credit for the bill's inclusion of stricter penalties for those caught with illegal guns.
The legislation also allows guns to be taken away from those suffering from mental illness. Background checks will now be more extensive and the state expands Kendra's Law, which allows judges broader discretion in mandating treatment for mental illness.
Assemblyman Keith Wright said, "I don't want people to have guns who are in the soundest of minds, much less with mental health issues. So I don't think too much ground was ceded. I feel like something needed to be done."
In a separate development, New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced that New York State will no longer invest its pension fund in companies that manufacture firearms. Governor Cuomo says he has no opinion in the matter and that it is entirely up to the comptroller.