Wednesday, September 27, 2023

New York Lawmakers Change State Gun Laws

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a landmark legislative package to immediately tighten the state’s gun laws and to close loopholes exposed by shooters in Buffalo and Uvalde.

The ten-bill package will:

  • Ban the sale of semi-automatic rifles to anyone under 21 by requiring a license;
  • Prohibit the purchase of body armor by anyone not engaged in an eligible profession;
  • Expanding the list of people who can file for Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) and requiring law enforcement to file ERPOs under a very specified set of circumstances;
  • Make it a crime to threatening mass harm;
  • Require microstamping for new semiautomatic handguns;
  • Enhance information sharing between state, local and federal agencies when guns are used in crimes;
  • Strengthen requirements for gun dealers related to record-keeping and safeguarding their inventory;
  • Close the “other gun” loophole by revising and widening the definition of a firearm;
  • Eliminate the grandfathering of large capacity feeding devices;
  • Require social media platforms to provide a mechanism for users to report hateful conduct.

“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 New York, we’re taking bold steps to protect the people of our state.”

State Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, who serves the Newburgh area, said, “Unless your profession puts you at a special risk of gun violence, there is no reason you need a bulletproof vest. This bill will help keep them out of the hands of those who want to protect themselves from law enforcement or other security officers while harming others.  If we can’t stop these criminals from shooting, the least we can do is take away their protection.”

State Senator James Skoufis, who also represents the Newburgh vicinity, noted, “New York will do what’s needed to keep our communities safe. The ‘red flag’ expansion bill that I sponsored allows health and mental healthcare professionals to file for extreme risk protection orders to help keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals. I applaud the Governor for signing this and other key measures to protect our families and communities.” 

The Executive Order calls on the New York State Police to establish a dedicated unit within the New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC) to track domestic violent extremism through social media. The unit will develop investigative leads through social media analysis, with a specific focus on identifying possible threats and individuals motivated by radicalization and violent extremism. Finally, the Executive Order calls on every county to perform an exhaustive review of its current strategies, policies and procedures for confronting threats of domestic terrorism. 

Hochul also issued a referral to the New York State Attorney General’s Office to investigate and study the social media platforms that were utilized by the Buffalo shooting suspect to promote violence. Findings from the investigation will be used to enhance and build on New York State’s strategy for combating extremism. 

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