New York State Passes Nation's Toughest Gun Law
It tightens rules on assault weapons, mentally ill
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 15, 2013 3:48 PM CST
Updated Jan 15, 2013 4:41 PM CST
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference announcing an agreement with legislative leaders on gun laws Monday.   (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

(Newser) – New York enacted the nation's toughest gun restrictions today and the first since the Connecticut school shooting, including an expanded assault-weapon ban and mandatory background checks for buying ammunition. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law less than an hour after it won final passage in the Legislature, with supporters hailing it as a model for the nation and gun-rights activists condemning it as a knee-jerk piece of legislation that won't make anyone safer. "Common sense can win," said Cuomo. Some elements of the law:

  • Mentally ill: Therapists, doctors, and other mental health professionals will be required to tell state authorities if a patient threatens to use a gun illegally. The patient's weapon could then be taken away.
  • Assault weapons: Owners of an estimated 1 million previously legal semiautomatic rifles, like the Bushmaster model used in Newtown, will be allowed to keep their weapons but will have a year to register them with police.
  • Semiautomatic features: Previously, state law banned semiautomatics that have detachable magazines and at least two military-type features, such as a pistol grip, folding stock, muzzle flash suppressor, or bayonet mount. The new law will reduce that to just one feature.
  • Ammo: The measure restricts ammunition magazines to seven bullets, down from 10, and makes New York the first state to require background checks to buy bullets. The system will also help flag customers who buy large amounts of ammo.
  • Bigger database: A more comprehensive database of people barred from owning guns will be created.
President Obama unveils his own gun violence proposals tomorrow morning.