New York state is expected to pass one of the toughest gun laws in America in the wake of the Newtown school shooting and the Webster, NY attack that killed two fire fighters. This law will feature some unique provisions that we should explore further.
In respect to an assault weapons ban (AWB), it eliminates many of the loopholes that were featured in the 90s federal AWB. Huffington Post reports:
Under current state law, assault weapons are defined by having two “military rifle” features, such as folding stock, muzzle flash suppressor or bayonet mount. The proposal would reduce that to one feature [emphasis mine], including the popular pistol grip. The language specifically targeted the military-style rifle used in the Newtown shootings.
Current owners of those guns will have to register them.
I have pointed out in the past that defining an ‘assault weapon’ is extremely difficult. As far as operating mechanism goes, there is very little difference between a semi-automatic hunting rifle and an AR-15. Because of this difficulty, old AWB did not in fact ban any assault weapons. I purchased my Bushmaster AR-15 during the old AWB. These new provisions could restrict the sales of ‘true’ assault weapons. Banning assault weapons is not the only part of this aggressive law.
Private sales of assault weapons to someone other than an immediate family would be subject to a background check through a dealer. New Yorkers also would be barred from buying assault weapons over the Internet, and failing to safely store a weapon could lead to a misdemeanor charge.
Ammunition magazines would be restricted to seven bullets, from the current 10, and current owners of higher-capacity magazines would have a year to sell them out of state. An owner caught at home with eight or more bullets in a magazine could face a misdemeanor charge.
Stores that sell ammunition will have to register with the state, run background checks on buyers of bullets and keep an electronic database of bullet sales.
Republicans, to their credit, have insisted that guns are not the only problem we face. Mental health issues abound in our society. This law also takes some steps to address mental health threats:
In another provision, a therapist who believes a mental health patient made a credible threat to use a gun illegally would be required to report it to a mental health director who would have to notify the state. A patient’s gun could be taken from him or her.
So what do you think? Does this go too far and violate gun owners’ rights? Or does it not go far enough to protect society? I look forward to your thoughts.
Gun control archives here.