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New York State Passes Toughest Gun Control Law in Nation

By Julie Shapiro | January 15, 2013 10:31pm
 Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the NY SAFE Act into law Jan. 15, 2013.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the NY SAFE Act into law Jan. 15, 2013.
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NEW YORK — New York State adopted the toughest gun control laws in the nation Tuesday, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed sweeping legislation to restrict who can own a gun and the types of weapons that are available.

The NY SAFE Act (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act) outlaws any magazine that holds more than seven rounds, tightens the ban on assault weapons, requires instant background checks for all ammunition purchases and creates a system for tracking large ammunitions buys in real time, officials said.

The law also aims to prevent convicted felons and potentially unstable mental health patients from owning guns. Mental health professionals will be required to report any patients who appear likely to harm others, and authorities will check if those patients have gun permits, and can revoke the permits and confiscate the weapons, officials said.

In addition, the NY SAFE Act requires all New Yorkers who own handguns or assault weapons to re-certify them every five years, and it also strengthens penalties for illegal guns.

New York's new law comes in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school massacre in December that left 20 children dead.

"The new law will limit gun violence through common sense, reasonable reforms that include addressing the risks posed by mentally ill people who have access to guns and banning high capacity magazines and lethal assault weapons," Cuomo said in a statement.

"This legislation is not about hunters, sportsmen, or legal owners who use their guns appropriately. It is about reducing gun violence and making New York a safer place to live."

Cuomo signed the legislation one day before President Barack Obama was scheduled to unveil his national proposal to combat gun violence, based on a task force that was led by Vice President Joe Biden.

Many city political leaders praised the state's quick action on gun control.

"The responsible and comprehensive gun reform bills the governor signed into law today will help keep guns away from criminals and others who are already prohibited from purchasing them," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement.

"The bills will also strengthen the state’s tough but sensible restrictions against military-style weapons and high capacity magazines. The bi-partisan cooperation that produced these bills sets an example for Washington to follow."