N.Y. Gov. Signs 10 Gun Safety Bills into Law, Sets New Precedent: 'Thoughts and Prayers Won't Fix This'

·3 min read
Kathy Hochul
Kathy Hochul

Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images New York Governor Kathy Hochul

New York has become the first state to enact a major tightening of gun regulations in the wake of a spate of mass shootings, with Gov. Kathy Hochul signing 10 gun-related bills into law on Monday. One of those bills will raise the age requirement for purchasing semiautomatic rifles.

Previously, anyone under the age of 18 could purchase a semiautomatic rifle. Under the new law, the age will be raised to 21.

Two of the most recent mass shootings to take place in the U.S. — one at a Buffalo supermarket, which killed 10 people, and another at a Texas elementary school, which killed 21 people — were perpetrated by 18-year-old gunmen.

The legislative package signed into law Monday also includes a bill prohibiting the purchase of body armor (with an exception for those in professions that require it), one requiring microstamping of new, semiautomatic pistols (a process that allows law enforcement agents to track guns that have been used to commit crimes), one that strengthens the "red flag" law by allowing authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from people who are deemed possible threats, and other measures that aim to close gun loopholes.

"Today is the start," Hochul said at a press conference Monday, "and it's not the end."

A memorial across the street from Tops Friendly Market at Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in Buffalo, NY. The Supermarket was the site of a fatal shooting of 10 people at a grocery store in a historically Black neighborhood of Buffalo by a young white gunman is being investigated as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism, according to federal officials.
A memorial across the street from Tops Friendly Market at Jefferson Avenue and Riley Street on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in Buffalo, NY. The Supermarket was the site of a fatal shooting of 10 people at a grocery store in a historically Black neighborhood of Buffalo by a young white gunman is being investigated as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism, according to federal officials.

Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty

Many lawmakers have called for tighter restrictions on guns following last month's prominent mass shootings, but Congress has failed to pass any major piece of federal gun control legislation in recent years.

"Gun violence is an epidemic that is tearing our country apart. Thoughts and prayers won't fix this, but taking strong action will," Hochul said in a statement. "In New York, we're taking bold steps to protect the people of our state."

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In a primetime address delivered last week, President Joe Biden continued pushing D.C. lawmakers to stand up and act on "commonsense" gun laws, and called for a federal ban on assault weapons.

"We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And if we can't ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21," Biden said. "Strengthen background checks.  Enact safe storage laws and red-flag laws. Repeal the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability. Address the mental health crisis deepening the trauma of gun violence and as a consequence of that violence."

The president added that the proposed measures were "rational" and "commonsense."

He continued: "Look, I know some folks will say, '18-year-olds can serve in the military and fire those weapons.' But that's with training and supervision by the best-trained experts in the world. Don't tell me raising the age won't make a difference."

To express your opinion on gun reform proposals to your own representatives in Congress, you can look them up and contact them here: congress.gov/members