Shortly before midnight Monday, New York’s Republican controlled state senate passed what is already being termed the toughest gun control in the nation. The Democratic-controlled assembly overwhelmingly passed the NY Safe Act Tuesday afternoon.
In a statement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted: "Tonight, the senators that voted for the NY SAFE Act of 2013 made a bold statement, coming together in a bipartisan, collaborative manner to meet the challenges that face our state and our nation, as we have seen far too many senseless acts of gun violence.”
Cuomo said in his State of the State Address delivered less than a week ago:
“There have been far too many lives claimed as a result of gun violence in recent years, from Columbine to Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown, and Webster. New York once led the way: Sullivan’s Law of 1911 was the nation's first gun control law — a model law that required a permit for possession of a hand gun. The time has come to make New York safer and once again lead the way for other states to follow.”
On the Senate floor, Republican state Sen. Greg Ball lamented: “We haven’t saved any lives tonight, except one: the political life of a governor who wants to be president.”
Speculation is growing that the popular New York governor will run for the nation’s highest office in 2016. Ball later issued a more restrained and diplomatic statement observing:
“We needed solid provisions to keep the violently, mentally ill from harming our communities, our kids and our families. That didn’t happen tonight. While much in this bill, as far as stiffer penalties for real criminals and help on the mental health front, is good, the last minute push, in the middle of the night without critical public input from sportsmen and taxpayers, was outrageous and forced members to vote on a bill they had not read."
Ball added: "While I’m glad we won on many fronts, including my permit privacy legislation against the Journal News, I simply cannot support a bill that turns law abiding citizens into criminals by creating an entire new category of illegal firearms out of currently legal rifles and shotguns.”
The proposed law imposes new requirements on mental health professionals to report patients who may cause harm to themselves or others. The definition of assault weapons is expanded to include semi-automatic pistols and rifles with detachable magazines. Ammunition will be restricted to seven rounds, down from 10, giving New York the toughest law on high capacity magazines in the nation. Purchases of ammunition also will be tracked in real time.
Regardless of the governor’s political ambitions and whether the legislation will better protect New Yorkers, the speed the legislation was introduced and passed showed a rare efficiency for Albany. Although Cuomo has immodestly said talk of his future political plans distracts from his agenda for New York, the speed and bipartisanship regarding this bill will no doubt draw national attention and fuel discussion about a future presidential bid.
Paul Jesep is an attorney, policy analyst, and author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis: Learn to Live and Work Ethically”; “Credit Card Usury and the Christian Failure to Stop It”; and “Crucifying Jesus and Secularizing America – the Republic of Faith without Wisdom.”