The Democrat-controlled New York Legislature on Tuesday passed a package of bills aimed at making the state’s already tough gun laws even stricter, including a measure barring teachers from carrying firearms in schools.
The legislation easily made its way through the Assembly, long controlled by Democrats, and the Senate, where Democrats regained control of the chamber in the November elections.
“It seems like every day we wake up to headlines of another mass shooting, another horrific gun crime,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, of Yonkers. “The madness has to stop.”
The gun control legislation was the first approved in Albany since Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act in early 2013, when Republicans controlled the Senate. The tougher gun laws known as the SAFE ACT passed just weeks after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The latest round of gun control legislation comes in the first month of Gov. Cuomo’s third term. He supports the measures and is expected to sign them into law.
“There is a solution, and we have six years of history to show that the planet does not stop spinning, people don’t lose guns, it doesn’t bankrupt an industry,” Cuomo said earlier Tuesday at a state Capitol news conference with anti-gun violence advocates.
A supporter of the Constitution’s guarantee of the rights of gun owners called the Legislature’s bills “disingenuous” and said they would only hurt people who adhere to current firearms laws.
“It’s a violation of their Second Amendment rights and these are lawful gun owners who are not committing the crimes,” said Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and a National Rifle Association board member.
One piece of legislation would make it illegal to sell or manufacture bump stocks, devises that can increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons. Such a device was used by the gunman who opened fire from a Las Vegas hotel room in 2017, killing 58 people at a country music concert and wounding hundreds of others.
Another bill would prohibit anyone other than a law enforcement officer, school resource officer or other security personnel from carrying a firearm while on school property. Under current state law, districts can decide whether to allow teachers and other school employees to carry guns in school.
The package of bills includes measures to create a municipal gun buyback program and to extend the waiting period from three days to 30 days after an inconclusive background check before a gun can be purchased.
There’s also legislation that would authorize law enforcement, parents, teachers and school administrators to ask a judge to evaluate a child they believe is a threat to themselves or others. The judge could then order the confiscation of firearms in the child’s home. That measure is known in Albany as a “red flag” bill.
Among the gun control advocates at the Cuomo news conference were Linda Beigel Schulman and Michael Schulman. The Long Island couple’s son, Scott, was among the 17 students and staff killed in last year’s shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school.
A former student with a troubled history at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was charged in the Feb. 14 shooting. Scott Beigel, a geography teacher and cross country coach at the school, would be alive today if Florida had gun control measures similar to New York’s in place before the shooting, his mother said.
“Parkland would never have happened if Florida had a red flag law,” she said.