On January 15, in the wake of the December shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, New York passed the toughest gun control laws in the United States.
The measure includes laws that beef up the ban on assault weapons, calls for those who currently legally own semiautomatic rifles to register them with police within a year, requirements for mental health screenings and background checks for those who purchase guns and ammo, calls for a life sentence for anyone who kills a first responder, and limits on the number of bullets in gun clips. Before the law passed, an assault weapon was deemed as having two military rifle features. Now, it's been lessened down to one. Gun clips were once allowed 10 rounds, but it's now been changed to seven.
The measure was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after it was approved by the State Assembly in a 104-to-43 vote. With this new law essentially comes a change of the term "assault weapon." Of the measure, Cuomo said, "I am proud to be part of this government, not just because New York has the first bill, but because New York has the best bill. I'm proud to be a New Yorker because New York is doing something -- because we are fighting back."
Many Democrats are for the bill, while some Republicans are saying it won't change a thing. Republican Assemblyman James Tedisco said, "You are using innocent children killed by a mad man for own political agenda. You are actually making people less safe."
From politicians to everyday folks who aren't in the public eye, many have an opinion on the subject of gun control, and it's become an even hotter debate ever since the tragedy in Newtown on December 14. According to a new Gallup survey, 38 percent of Americans want gun laws strengthened, 43 percent think they're fine as is, and 5 percent think they should be less strict.
Locals In and Around New York City Speak Out
I reached out via social media and through personal connections to locals in and around the New York City metro area, and as to be expected, strong opinions on both sides of the issue were found. Here's what some are saying about the new measure passed into law on January 15:
"New York is headed in the right direction. I'm a supporter of the Second Amendment, but I'm hard-pressed to understand why anyone -- outside of the military -- needs assault-grade weapons. That said, I'm more concerned with the state of mental health care in this country. I appreciate how the New York bill has provisions for dealing with mentally ill people, but it's a reactive measure, not a proactive one. I'd much rather see more focus put on these mass shootings through mental health care than rushing to put a band-aid on a problem after the fact." -- Meagan Morris, New York City.
"I don't agree with this assault weapon ban. Guns will always be available on the black market to criminals; they don't follow rules! Innocent people will be unarmed and defenseless. As long as criminals roam the earth, guns will be available, plain and simple. The president of the United States has all his Secret Service men armed to shoot if anyone threatens his life, but a man isn't allowed to be armed to protect his family, which includes kids? It's gonna take a lot of manpower and tax money to fight this battle against guns -- that money can go to more important things." -- Freddie Berrios, Kearny, New Jersey.
"Criminals are the ones who do this sort of thing, shoot up innocent kids and adults. Criminals are not the sort of people who will follow the laws of this nation. Restrictions on the sales of guns and ammunition is not going to change a dang thing. The bad people will find away to steal what they need -- that's what criminals do. If every gun was gone come morning, the criminals would find some other way to harm or kill the innocent people to get what they want." -- Amy Browne, New York City.
"I am thrilled to hear this news, which will have an immediate impact on the safety of New York residents. While it is true that mental health issues contribute to tragedies like Newtown, the need to limit access to assault weapons should be obvious." -- Nancy Kaplan, Livingston, New Jersey.
"I believe gun control laws do need to be reevaluated and regulated but not at the expense of taking away people's freedom to bear arms. Restricting people from the right to protect themselves can actually have the reverse effect and will turn law-abiding citizens into criminals. The issue that should become the main focus of all this controversy first and foremost is caring for and providing the proper help for those with mental health issues to further prevent possible mental breakdowns leading to these tragedies." -- Autumn McShane, Point Pleasant, New Jersey.
"I find it incredible that they can think that this is going to actually strip weapons from the mentally ill. New York needs to stop pretending that the issues are guns. It's quite obvious they have no control. The cops are corrupt; homeless and mentally ill roam the street. Minimizing the weapons. Amounts of bullets. It's just simple proof that it is a decoy to the real issues. None of this is right whatsoever. I believe in the right to bear arms. I also believe in helping and supporting all the mentally ill on the street to get the right treatment they need. Typical New York." -- Linda Giuliani, Massapequa, New York.
"I'm an Army veteran and trained to handle different weapons, such as those used in the Newtown shooting. Before we were allowed to handle our weapons, they made sure we went through medical evaluations and background checks, and we were tested on how to properly use our weapons. If we failed, we wouldn't be able to defend this nation. I don't have a problem with people obtaining weapons, as long as they meet certain requirements -- the same ones I needed to meet as a U.S. soldier. Many say the government is trying to take away their guns, which is pure B.S. All that is being proposed and what was passed with this bill is to reform military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. There is no need for military-style weapons on the streets. People who are making noise about guns being taken away are just people that have self interests and are invested in making money by inciting fear of guns being taken away. How many more tragedies must we endure? More guns are not the answer; they are the problem. I want to see this new bill passed in more states." -- Danny Trujillo, Montclair, New Jersey.
- Politics & Government
- New York
- New York City