N.Y. Governor Signs Nation’s First Gun-Control Bill since Newtown Shooting

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the toughest gun control law Tuesday, soon after the state Assembly supported the state’s ban on assault weapons.

New York on Tuesday became the first state to approve a package of gun control laws in the wake of the last month’s mass shooting in Newtown. Photo: governorandrewcuomo/Flickr

The state’s governor, who had earlier revealed that he is a gun owner as well, said the Connecticut massacre spurred lawmakers to action and called it a “common sense” measure before enacting what are widely seen as America’s toughest gun laws.

“You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and common sense,” he said before signing the deal in Albany.

The applied measure fortify New York’s existing assault weapons ban, limiting the number of bullets allowed in gun-shops and strengthens rules that govern the mentally ill, who pose threats.

Andrew Cuomo pushed hard for the bill, which passed the Senate on Monday night and easily passed the Assembly earlier Tuesday.

“I’m proud to be a New Yorker,” Cuomo said. “It’s not just the first bill, it’s the best bill.”

On Monday night, after the Senate passed the measure, the New York governor likened gun control to a public health issue.

“This is a scourge on society,” he said Monday night, a week after he set gun control measures as the main aim of his State of the State address.

The bipartisan effort was speeded up because of the Newtown tragedy that took the lives of dozens of children and adults. “At what point do you say, `No more innocent loss of life’?”

The measure, which passed the Assembly 104-43, also includes certain restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns, reports CNN.

“This is not about taking anyone’s rights away,” said Sen. Jeffrey Klein, a Bronx Democrat, when the bill passed the Senate late Monday night.

“It’s about a safe society … today we are setting the mark for the rest of the county to do what’s right,” he added.

According to the 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 reduces that to one feature and includes the popular pistol grip.

Under the new law, owners of assault weapons that were banned on Tuesday will be allowed to keep them, but will have to register the guns with the police, CBS News correspondent Chip Reid explained.

That’s one reason Republican State Senator Greg Ball voted no.

“What we did do is create an entire new category of illegal firearms out of firearms that are legal currently and thereby turning law abiding gun owners into criminals in this state,” Ball said.

The National Rifle Association had examined the new New York law, saying it is outraged by it. The NRA estimated that the law will have no impact on safety.

In a statement, the National Rifle Association said: “These gun control schemes have failed in the past and will have no impact on public safety and crime.”

“While lawmakers could have taken a step toward strengthening mental health reporting and focusing on criminals, they opted for trampling the rights of law-abiding gun owners in New York, and they did it under a veil of secrecy in the dark of night,” the Association added.

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