Buffalo, NY

Hochul Approves Extensive Legislative Package to Toughen Gun Laws

J.M. Lesinski

A shot of Delaware Avenue, just up the road from the Jefferson Avenue Tops in Buffalo, New York.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently made law an extensive legislative package aimed at strengthening New York state’s gun laws and closing strategic loopholes exposed in the recent mass shootings across the United States and at home in Buffalo.

"Gun violence is an epidemic that is tearing our country apart. Thoughts and prayers won't fix this, but taking strong action will," remarked Hochul of the legislative package. "In New York, we're taking bold steps to protect the people of our state. I am proud to sign a comprehensive bill package that prohibits the sale of semiautomatic weapons to people under 21, bans body armor sales outside of people in select professions, closes critical gun law loopholes and strengthens our Red Flag Law to keep guns away from dangerous people—new measures that I believe will save lives. I am thankful to Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, and all our legislative partners for acting with the urgency and thoughtfulness that this issue demands. While we are taking expedient action to enhance New York State's nation-leading gun laws, we recognize that gun violence is a nationwide problem. I once again urge Congress to follow our lead and take immediate action to pass meaningful gun violence prevention measures. Lives depend on it."

Legislation passed includes S.9458/A.10503, which requires a license prior to the purchase of a semiautomatic rifle, S.9407-B/A.10497, which makes the purchase or selling of body vests illegal to anyone not in a law enforcement or other eligible profession, and S.9113-A/A.10502, which expands the Red Flag Law through multiple amendments.

"Today, New York is taking swift, comprehensive action to combat the gun violence epidemic that continues to take the lives of innocent Americans each and every day,” New York Attorney General Letitia James noted of the legislation. “Across the nation, loopholes, lax laws, and the inaction of public officials allow guns to proliferate in our streets and devastate our communities. With this new package of gun laws, New York will continue to lead in imposing reasonable gun laws that keep our people safe, and I urge other states to follow suit. The time for thoughts and prayers alone has long passed — now is the time for action."

Further legislation passed includes S.4116-A/A.7926-A, which cracks down on microstamping, S.9456/A.10504, which expands the definition of the word firearm to capture firearms that evade the previous definition, S.9229-A/A.10428-A, which abolishes grandfathered large capacity ammunition feeding devices legally acquired prior to the Safe Act or made prior to 1994, and S.89-B/A.6716-A, which creates making a threat of mass harm and aggravated making a threat of mass harm criminal offenses.

"My colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority have worked tirelessly for years to address the scourge of gun violence that has plagued this country for far too long,” said New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the legislative package. “In just 10 days, two horrific shootings took the lives of 31 innocent people in Uvalde, Texas and right here in Buffalo, New York - including children - in places where they should have felt safe. Together with our colleagues in the Senate and Governor Hochul, we have worked to make New York's gun laws some of the toughest in the country because we believe that every American deserves to feel safe. I am proud of our efforts here in New York, but this country needs to have a serious conversation about its obscene fascination with guns and assault weapons so that every American can live without the fear of gun violence devastating their communities."

Additional legislation passed includes S.4970-A/A.1023-A, which mandates enhanced reporting by law enforcement officials to federal and state gun databases and requires police inspections of gun dealers every three years, S.4511-A/A.7865-A, which requires social media networks to create a policy on responding to incidences of hateful conduct on their platform, and S.9465/A.10501, which establishes the Task Force on Social Media and Violent Extremism through the Office of the Attorney General.

"On this day, action was taken in New York State toward sensible gun reform so that every New Yorker can feel safer going to the store, going to school and visiting places of worship without having to consider the possibility of a mass shooter wielding a weapon made for war,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown commented. “The mass shooting victims in Buffalo and across the country must not be in vain. We will continue to make our voices heard and urge the Federal government to follow New York's lead so that no community has to feel pain and loss like Buffalo, Uvalde, Philadelphia and so many other places around our country."

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY

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