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Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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New York to Raise Age Limit for Semiautomatic Rifles

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AR-15 assault rifles displayed on the exhibit floor during a National Rifle Association annual meeting in 2016. | Image by Luke Sharrett via Bloomberg

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul and other top state lawmakers introduced a package of ten bills to tighten the state’s gun laws on Wednesday.

The legislation has the support of Gov. Hochul, as well as state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, indicating it will pass.

The lawmakers claim the measures will close loopholes that allowed the gunman in the mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store to carry out his massacre. However, Republicans say the bills are only intended to create headlines without addressing underlying issues.

“Within the last month, two horrific mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas have rattled this nation to our core and shed a new light on the urgent need for action to prevent future tragedies,” Hochul said.

One of the most significant changes the package of measures will bring in is raising the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle to 21 years old from 18.

“This is going to force these gun dealers to do a background check, go through character and fitness,” Sen. Kevin Thomas said.

New York will also become the first state to ban the sale of body armor, which the Buffalo shooter was wearing during his attack. Law enforcement and others who need body armor for work will be exempt from the ban.

“The view of this bill is that the world is not made safer by allowing anybody to purchase this stuff because it does make it more difficult for police to respond,” Sen. Brian Kavanagh said.

The new laws will also require individuals to have a gun license before purchasing a semiautomatic rifle. It will eliminate grandfathering of extended magazines, strengthen Red Flag laws, and require new pistols to include microstamping technology for tracing. Microstamping is an identification technology that etches a unique code in each bullet case as it is fired.

The measures will also criminalize threatening mass harm and require information-sharing among state, local, and federal agencies when guns are used to commit a crime.

“New York’s laws, especially with the package that we’re passing this week, really are among the strongest in the country,” Sen. Kavanagh said.

According to state lawmakers, New York residents who already own a semiautomatic rifle or body armor will be allowed to keep them.

New York State Republican Committee chair Nick Langworthy responded in part:

“This package of bills does nothing to actually address the underlying mental health crisis at the center of the problem or invests in securing our schools. If Hochul and legislative leaders cared about shooting victims, they would vote today to repeal their disastrous bail laws that has turned our streets over to violent criminals.”

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