It was a proud day for New York on Tuesday when Governor Cuomo signed off on the toughest gun laws in America. Better known for its dysfunction, Albany came together under Cuomo’s leadership and pushed through a sweeping package of gun-control measures, hailed by the governor as the “most comprehensive package in the nation.”
The new regulations represent a multipronged approach to curbing gun violence. Under the package of laws, the definition of banned assault weapons is immediately expanded to include semi-automatics with one military-style feature. Also, owners of what is believed to be 1 million previously legal semiautomatic guns now must register them with the police. In addition, a new limit is imposed on ammunition clips — down to seven bullets from the previous cap of 10. Under the new regulations, New York is now the first state to require background checks to purchase bullets. And a statewide gun registration database will be created. Police will now get automatic alerts of high-volume buys of ammo. Mental health professionals are now required to report if they think a patient could be a threat. Also under the new law, police are now empowered to confiscate any firearm owned by a dangerous patient. Kendra’s Law — which permits judges to order mentally ill patients to receive treatment on an outpatient basis — will be expanded. Finally, anyone who kills a first responder will now get a mandatory life sentence without parole.
“We are fighting back,” Cuomo said at the signing of the new restrictions.
At last, thanks to Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, we’re starting to see the chokehold of the N.R.A. around our country’s neck being loosened, and are hopefully on course toward a less violent and a saner America.
Wednesday evening, President Obama laid out his own gun control plan, including the restoration and strengthening of the assault weapons ban; banning armor-piercing ammo; instating strict punishments for gun trafficking; and generally making it harder for criminals and those people with mental illness who are dangerous to get access to guns.
Critically important, under Obama’s plan, criminal background checks would be mandatory for all gun sales, closing the much-exploited loophole under which gun buyers can avoid screening by purchasing weapons from unlicensed sellers at gun shows or in private sales.
Clearly, Obama will have a hard road trying to get these sensible gun control measures through Congress. Yet last month’s sickening mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school has given momentum to the new push for gun control.
We were disappointed that the governor’s package excluded microstamping. This technology — used to trace bullets to guns that fired them — is championed by local state Senator Dan Squadron and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh.
We’re also disappointed that City Council candidate Yetta Kurland continues to dodge revealing what she did with her handgun, which last month she told us she no longer possesses. The best thing she could have done would have been to turn the deadly weapon in at an official, gun-buyback program. That would mean “one less gun on the street,” one less gun out there that could take a life — or more than one life.
Yet, instead of simply answering our question about this, Kurland’s spokesperson lectures us that we “misunderstand” gun control and that it’s “such an important issue” that Kurland won’t deign to answer our question.
Kurland portrays herself as a gun control activist, has led gun control vigils — but she won’t tell us what she did with her own gun?
Yes, she’s right, we don’t understand — that is, we don’t understand why she won’t simply tell us what she did with the gun. Is it still out there, a potential threat to kill or maim people? Particularly, given that she portrays herself as a gun control advocate, Kurland must answer this question. If she doesn’t, it surely will be an issue that her campaign opponents will use against her — and, we would say, justifiably so.