New York State Democrats propose restrictions on guns, vests, and ammo after Buffalo and Texas shootings

Following tragic mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas, New York State Democrats are expected to adopt legislation this week putting additional limitations on semi-automatic guns, bullet-proof vests, and large-capacity magazines. Governor Kathy Hochul issued a press release on the proposed legislation stating, “New York already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country but clearly we need to make them even stronger. New Yorkers deserve to feel safe in schools, in grocery stores, in movie theaters, in shopping malls and on our streets.”

According to the New York Post, one of the proposals in the legislation reflects Hochul’s campaign to prohibit the sale of semi-automatic rifles to individuals under the age of 21. However, a recent federal court ruling reversed a California statute prohibiting the sale of semi-automatic weapons to anyone under the age of 21. In discussing the legal challenges the bill could face, Democrat State Sen. Kevin Thomas, who is a sponsor of the bill said, “Anything is possible, but we are here to move forward with this first step.”

The plan would also require New Yorkers to get permits to purchase or obtain semi-automatic rifles, comparable to the present state regulations for having a handgun. Similar legislation already exists in California and a few other states. This is one of several measures introduced in response to the Buffalo massacre, in which the shooter used a legally obtained semi-automatic weapon, a bullet-proof vest, and illegal, high-capacity magazines to murder ten people and injure 3 more.

Other legislation set to pass the Legislature this week includes a prohibition on the sale of bullet-proof vests to anyone not in specific professions, such as law enforcement, and a bill to address a gap that prosecutors claim hinders them from pursuing people who have unlawful gun magazines. Additionally, provisions in the legislation include broadening the definition of “firearm” and creating the basis for requiring microstamping technology in new pistols to assist matching individual weapons with fired cartridges. 

Lawmakers claim the new provisions will boost reporting of illicit weapons seizures, better monitor internet extremism, and provide improvements to help prevent mass shootings. In Democratic-controlled Albany, the bill’s passage looks imminent, with unpredictable ramifications for gun owners in New York.

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