New York state lawmakers are seeking to pass tougher gun laws that include raising the age from 18 to 21 for the purchase of semi-automatic rifles such as the ones used in the recent Buffalo and Texas mass shootings.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, and the state's liberal legislature, planned to pass the gun package before the state's legislative session ended Thursday, Politico reported.
Gun laws have been thrust into the national discussion after the two recent mass shootings.
On May 14, an 18-year-old white gunmen shot 10 people to death and wounded three others at a grocery store in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, the state's second largest city.
Last week in Uvalde, Texas, an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school.
New York legislators were acting to address the failure of the state's strict background checks and "red flag" law to prevent the Buffalo shooting, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Wednesday.
"We've done a lot. On the national level, they are talking about the things that we've already done," Stewart-Cousins said, Politico reported. "So we continue to lead, and to try to answer the moment as it occurs."
The Red Flag law, which allows for the seizure of guns from individuals determined to pose a risk to themselves or others, would be expanded to allow more people to file risk orders, Politico reported.
It also would be strengthened by requiring law enforcement to file an order if credible information emerges.
The legislative package also included adding semi-automatic rifles to the weapons requiring a permit available to those over the age of 21. The state currently requires permits for handguns, but not rifles.
Another bill would ban the sale of body armor to people outside law enforcement or other state-designated professions.
Most New York Republicans have slammed the new proposals, saying the focus should be on mental health and more school resource officers.
"I do not support gun control. I stand up for the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, but there's work that we need to do, and that is increasing mental health funding and increasing those resources for school resource officers," Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said Tuesday, Politico reported.
After the Sandy Hook school shooting nine years ago, Albany enacted a different set of gun restrictions known as the SAFE Act.
Hochul and every state legislator are up for reelection this year, and many voters say crime is the most important issue.
"I really look at this package as being very comprehensive, holistic in its approach to addressing this public health crisis," said Rebecca Fischer, the executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Politico reported.
"I think that for states like Connecticut, and New Jersey, California, these are laws that can be used as a model to get them up to speed right away."
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