New York Enacts Tougher Gun Laws As Obama Pursues Same Goal

New York enacts tougher gun laws as Obama pursues same goal (The Business Review, Jan 16, 2013):

New York state widened the scope of its gun-control laws Tuesday, becoming the first state to try to clamp down on assault weapons in the aftermath of the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.

In 20 hours, the expansive bill went from being printed and introduced in the Legislature to being signed into law—prompting many gun owners to flood gun stores and stock up. Today, President Obama is set to unveil his own gun-control plans.

The New York legislation stung the gun manufacturing industry in the Mohawk Valley, and particularly residents of the rural village of Ilion, where Remington Arms Co. has supplied jobs for 197 years. Among the guns made in Ilion is Bushmaster, the brand of semiautomatic rifle used in last month’s killing of 20 first-graders in Newtown.

All semiautomatic rifles are now deemed assault weapons under New York’s new ban (see a list of key points here). Gov. Andrew Cuomo estimates that there are roughly 1 million assault rifles presently in the state; their owners can keep them, but the new law requires them to register the guns with the state Police.

Remington workers lobbied against the legislation, caught trying to square a national debate with their generational ties to a company that provides a middle-class livelihood and puts food on the table. Workers and union officials warned that the tone set by the new laws will prompt Remington to ship product lines out of the state; so far, the private company, which is up for sale, has not returned requests for comment.

Cuomo, who has revealed that he owns a Remington shotgun, has called action by Obama and Congress the best way to tackle gun control. He said gun control is “fundamentally a federal matter,” noting that someone can buy guns in other states, under different regulations there, and bring those weapons into New York.

That said, Cuomo heralded New York’s new laws as groundbreaking, and the toughest in the nation.

The state Assembly passed the bill by a 104-43 tally on Tuesday afternoon, and Cuomo promptly signed it into law. The Senate passed the bill Jan. 14 by a 43-18 vote, with 11 Republicans voting in favor.

“You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and with reason and with common sense,” Cuomo said.

Many Republicans assailed the law during a four-hour debate Tuesday in the Assembly. Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R-Glenville) referred to the Second Amendment as “Amendment 1.5”—that is, it is diminished by the new law, he said. He waved a pocket copy of the U.S. Constitution as he spoke.

“The real intent is to make innocent, honest, law-abiding citizens into criminals. The byproduct is to create a false sense of security,” Tedisco said.

Tedisco criticized the law for restricting ammunition and the capacity of magazines.

“The new definition for the Second Amendment is, you can only have one gun with one bullet,” Tedisco said. “And when those gangbangers, those five of them break into your house … you’ll tell them to line up with their hearts next to each other, and you will have a high-velocity bullet, and you’ll be so good at marksmanship that you’re going to shoot the first one and it’ll go through all five of their hearts.

“No. You’re going to die,” Tedisco continued. “That’s what you’re telling your constituents: They’re going to die.”

Owning guns, Tedisco added, “is part of the freedoms and liberties we have.” He said it was a matter of public safety, “and it’s to protect us from our own government.”

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