After two devastating mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y. and Uvalde, Texas, Governor Kathy Hochul proposed to strengthen and close loopholes in state gun laws. Statewide efforts include more state police patrols at schools, microstamping, a crackdown on gun-related crimes, and increasing limits on Raise The Age.
New York State doesn’t slouch on its current gun laws and has some of the strongest in the nation as it is. The state already requires, among other things, background checks, licensing, registration, a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, safe storage and child access prevention, mental health reporting, and a gun liability law that allows residents to sue the gun industry for reckless practices.
And yet despite these strict “common sense” laws, New York State has continued to suffer from a general uptick in gun violence. Since January 2021, “Gun violence is up 48% in New York City, 22% in Albany, 88% in Buffalo, and 95% in Rochester,” making it an official public health emergency, said a statewide gun violence awareness campaign.
There’s also the disturbing epidemic of mass shootings.
“How does an 18-year-old purchase an AR-15 in the State of New York, State of Texas?,” asked Hochul in last Wednesday’s presser. “That person’s not old enough to buy a legal drink. I want to work with the legislature to change that. I want it to be 21.”
Hochul intends to alter the Raise The Age law so that only those 21 years old and up are eligible to buy a gun as opposed to 18 years old, the age of both the Uvalde and Buffalo shooters.
Additionally, Hochul said that she is directing uniform and plainclothes officers to increase visibility at schools in their patrol areas statewide from now until the end of the school year. The safety teams will combat the rise in domestic and violent extremism that targets vulnerable and minority communities on social media platforms.
Hochul also plans to widen the definition of a firearm and require microstamping, or “fingerprinting” on the bullets, which should help aid in investigating gun-related crimes and trafficking of illegal guns.
Meanwhile, anti-gun advocates are nervous about a possible Supreme Court ruling that stretches all the way back to 2008. It could loosen the state’s tight concealed carry laws and have a tremendous impact on public safety, said Pix11.
In a statewide press conference on May 31, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said that he “hopes and prays” the Supreme Court will take into account the recent and tragic mass shootings when making decisions.
Also in the courts, the state’s gun liability law was recently upheld by Attorney General Letitia James. Senator Zellnor Myrie, who sponsored the gun liability law, said resolutely that federal inaction is not an excuse to do nothing when it comes to gun violence.
“These have been a dark two weeks. Black people slain while shopping in Buffalo, a commuter shot dead on the train I take every week in Brooklyn, and children mercilessly massacred in Texas,” said Myrie in a statement. “We passed this first-in-the-nation law for one reason: to protect New Yorkers from gun violence and hold bad actors in the gun industry who help facilitate that violence accountable.”
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w