With Quick Action, New York Enacts Tough Gun Laws

Well, that was fast.

New York on Tuesday (January 15) enacted wide-ranging new gun laws, becoming the first state to tighten oversight in the wake of last month's elementary school massacre in Connecticut.

The legislation, which Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law on just the second day of the 2013 session, has been called the nation's toughest set of gun-control measures. New York's previous gun-control measures were already ranked among the strictest.

The new laws tighten a ban on weapons with “military-style” features, close a loophole that allowed buyers at private sales to escape background checks and put stronger controls on ammunition, tracking high-volume purchases and banning magazines that hold more than seven rounds, reduced from 10.

The legislation also addresses mental health, requiring professionals to report patients considered threatening, while extending mandatory outpatient treatment for some seriously mentally ill people who have a history of arrests.

Additionally, the laws stiffen penalties for illegal gun use.

“This legislation is not about hunters, sportsmen or legal owners who use their guns appropriately,” Cuomo said. “It is about reducing gun violence.”

The package sailed through New York's Democrat-controlled legislature but drew criticism from Republicans, who complained it was quickly written and rushed through with little debate.

Cuomo used a “message of necessity,” to skirt the usual three-day waiting period on bills, saying it was needed to prevent a last-minute surge in sales. Critics accused the governor of trying to grab national headlines by moving legislation before President Obama formally announces his recommendations for curbing gun violence, expected Wednesday.

“In his rush to be the first governor in the Nation to pass any gun control legislation,” New York Republicans said in a statement, “Cuomo missed the opportunity to get gun policy right.”

Advocates of increased gun control, however, praised the swift action and the contents of the legislation.

Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said the package “represents the kind of solutions that need to be implemented on the federal level,” and that it “will have an immediate and widespread impact on gun violence.”