Driven by the mass shooting that took place in Newtown, Connecticut last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature are closing in on a deal that would bring changes to the state's gun laws and increase the ban on assault weapons statewide. A vote on the new legislation is expected to take place early this week, either Monday or Tuesday.
As of Monday afternoon, a vote has not yet come; but state lawmakers are likely to continue privately discuss the new gun control legislation and both sides remain optimistic. The new gun control legislation includes a strengthened assault weapons ban and a firmer limit on magazines. Currently, the legal capacity of gun magazines is 10 rounds. Under the new deal this number would be reduced to 7 rounds. It would also include new procedures to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill individuals, require background checks for those individuals who want to purchase a gun and it would allow for harsher penalties when it comes to gun crimes. Lastly, the new legislation would magnify Kendra’s Law, which allows judges to determine whether a mentally ill patient needs to undergo outpatient treatment.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, (D - Manhattan), stated that legislators are “very, very close to a final agreement on the bill.” Silver also went on to state that the biggest issue under negotiation was how to provide financing to aid school districts in improving the security of their schools. Despite this dilemma, Silver emphasized that “the clear thing is, we are going to ban assault weapons.” Similar to Silver’s sentiments, Senator Jeff Klein (D - Bronx), said that he is “very confident” that the senate will vote on the gun laws early this week. He sounded optimistic, saying, “I think when all is said and done, we’re going to pass a comprehensive gun bill today. And I think it’s important and this is an issue that shows we can work together, Democrats and Republicans.”
This idea of working together is the key reason the gun bill is likely to be passed in New York, whereas on the federal level, the Congress is unable to push forward gun control legislation.
This bill takes into consideration ideas from both Democrats and Republicans and combines them. Unlike Congress, the New York state Assembly and Senate realized the need to work together and sought to compromise when creating the new bill. For example, while Democrats pushed for the ban on assault weapons and reduced magazines, Republicans pushed for tougher penalties for gun related crimes and a life sentence without parole for anyone who kills a first responder. As Senator Thomas Libous (R - Binghamton), the top deputy in the Republican caucus puts it the need for a new gun control bill was “inevitable,” and therefore there was need to put differences aside and work together on the new bill.
However, Libous went on to point out that no matter the compromise, some people are simply going to be against the bill and will remain unhappy. Citing gun-rights groups and gun owners, Libous stated that some believe that hunters and sportsmen would be receiving the greatest punishment from this bill and violence would still continue. Cuomo was quick to fire back stating that “no one hunts with an assault rifle,” and, “No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer. End the madness.” Lubios then went on to reiterate that the bill is “something that is going to go forward.”
The bill is going forward as a vote is now anticipated. The new gun laws illustrate the progress that can come from both sides working together and compromising to improve the safety of society and its citizens. While the Congress continues to struggle on the issue of gun control, New York, has been able to move forward due to bipartisanship, and the ability to recognize that gun control is necessary and unavoidable due to the many tragic events that have occurred in the U.S. as a result of gun violence.