New York set to pass first post-Newtown gun control law

Gun enthusiasts look at various firearms on the

Gun enthusiasts look at various firearms on the floor at the National Rifle Association's annual meetings and exhibits in St. Louis. (April 14, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

A broad package of gun control legislation is expected to sail through the New York State Assembly Tuesday after the state Senate in a late Monday night session approved measures to expand the state's ban on assault weapons, keep guns away from the mentally ill and increase gun-related penalties.

The legislation, if approved, would make New York the first state to craft gun control legislation since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre in December.

The state Senate passed the package of bills, 43-18, about 11:20 p.m. The Assembly, citing the hour, postponed a vote until 10 a.m. Tuesday. But there should be little suspense -- passage by the overwhelmingly Democratic chamber is all but assured.


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The proposals include creating a new, statewide gun registry that would be off-limits to public disclosure. It would mandate all gun sales be made through licensed dealers, require background checks of ammunition buyers and would make New York the first state to check ammunition purchases in "real time." New York also would be the first to limit gun magazines to seven rounds; the current state limit is 10.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he would be "proud" if the state earned that distinction.

"I believe it's the most comprehensive package in the nation," Cuomo said at a late-night news conference. He said gun violence is a "a scourge on society," noting the slaying of two firefighters on Christmas Eve in a Rochester suburb.

The ban on assault weapons would take effect immediately -- to prevent a run on gun stores, the governor said.

State Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said most of the bills had been pushed by Democrats in past years but had been bottled up by Republicans.

"The Senate Democrats were proud to provide the votes to make this crucial package possible," said Stewart-Cousins. "The fact is, the bills passed today should have been enacted a long time ago."

Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Orange) praised the "historic" measures.

"In this legislation, we'll not only protect people from violence but stiffen penalties against those that are using guns illegally, and also protect people's privacy," he said.

Sen. Jeffrey Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference in the Senate, sought to deflect criticism from firearms advocates. "This is not about taking anyone's rights away," said Klein, a Bronx/Westchester Democrat. "It's about a safe society . . . today we are setting the mark for the rest of the country to do what's right."

Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said the proposal clearly split Republicans, but he supported the gun package because it was "well-balanced" and "comprehensive."

"If you have an assault weapon, nobody is going to take it away from you," Skelos said. "Nobody is going to take away your 10-round clips. You're just going to have seven rounds in it. So, I think, on balance, the Second Amendment is protected, but also there are incredibly enhanced criminal penalties."

Cuomo said he wanted quick action to avoid a run on assault weapons and ammunition as he tries to address what he estimates is about 1 million assault weapons in New York State.

Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson) called that political opportunism in a rare criticism of the popular and powerful governor seen by his supporters as a possible candidate for president in 2016.

"We haven't saved any lives tonight, except one: the political life of a governor who wants to be president," Ball said. "We have taken an entire category of firearms that are currently legal that are in the homes of law-abiding, taxpaying citizens . . . We are now turning those law-abiding citizens into criminals."

With The Associated Press

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