New York governor signs bills that ban semi-automatic rifles for those under 21, outlaws body armor

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(ALBANY, N.Y.) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed sweeping gun reform bills to ban anyone under the age of 21 from buying or possessing a semi-automatic rifle and criminalizing those who make mass threats.

The package, signed on Monday, was passed by the New York Assembly on June 2 after the May 14 shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo that left 13 dead and the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas that left 19 children and two adults dead.

“This is a moral moment for the people of New York but also the rest of the nation,” Hochul said. “Follow what we did here in New York, and we’ll finally start to be at the beginning of the end of all this gun violence and the massacres that are occurring every day in our country.”

The new legislation will add to previous gun laws by banning the purchase or possession of semi-automatic rifles by those under 21, requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to share gun crime information with federal databases, expanding the ability of health care professionals, police and district attorneys to file Extreme Risk Protection Orders, banning the sale of body armor to the general public and requiring a license to purchase assault weapons.

This legislative package will also criminalize both the act of making a threat of mass harm and adding to a threat with overt acts to further it.

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The package of bills creates policies for social media networks in New York to monitor and respond to incidents of hateful conduct on their platforms, as well as requiring gun dealers to implement security plans for securing firearms, train their employees on the conduct of their products and be inspected by state police every three years.

Hochul announced further funding as part of New York State’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative. According to the governor’s website, $18.2 million has been secured to fund 17 participating counties across the state.

The funding will go towards 20 local police departments across these 17 counties that account for over 80% of the violent crime in New York.

While New York City already requires permits to possess, carry and purchase any type of firearm and blocks most under the age of 21 from receiving permits, the new state legislation will affect counties beyond the city’s limits.

In some counties, individuals as young as 16 can purchase rifles and shotguns without a license or permit.

Other states that have passed similar legislation banning those under 21 from purchasing certain types of long guns have been challenged in court.

In Florida, the National Rifle Association is challenging the state’s ban on the sale of rifles and other firearms to adults under 21, a law that passed following the 2018 Parkland school shooting that left 17 students and staff members dead.

“In New York State, we already require a permit to purchase a pistol or a revolver. My legislation will institute the same requirements for semi-automatic rifles,” Assemblymember Chantel S. Jackson said. “Both in Buffalo and in Uvalde, Texas, 18-year-olds went out and bought semi-automatic rifles, and between the two attacks, murdered 31 people. Instituting a permit process is a logical, commonsense provision to keep New Yorkers safe.”

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