Democrats in the New York Legislature are calling for a new package of gun-control laws in the wake of the school shootings earlier this month in Florida.
Gun-control groups and the lawmakers said Tuesday that New York’s already tough laws on guns should be bolstered after the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. — as well as other mass shootings in recent months.
The bills include “extreme risk” protective orders against people who have guns, a ban on bump stocks and an expansion of background checks.
The lawmakers want to give judges the power to issue orders of protection that prohibit individuals from purchasing or possessing a gun if they are found likely to harm themselves or others.
Other steps would be to expand gun buyback programs and ban individuals convicted of hate crimes from purchasing or possessing guns.
“Guns are weapons of mass destruction, and we’ve got to start treating them like weapons of mass destruction,” said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, D-Mount Pleasant, Westchester County.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman supported the bill Tuesday, saying getting the guns out of the hands of mentally ill people through the court system would be a positive step.
“In many cases, shooters exhibit clear indications that they are deeply troubled before they pulled the trigger, but those around them were unable to prevent them from obtaining deadly firearms,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
New York passed the SAFE Act in 2013 following the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
The gun-control law expanded the ban on assault-style weapons, required gun owners to register their weapons and put mentally ill people in a state database to prevent them from obtaining guns.
Republicans who control the state Senate haven’t shown support for expanding the SAFE Act. In fact, some have wanted over the years to either repeal the law or scale it back amid ongoing protests from gun-rights groups.
During a wide ranging speech at Marist College in Poughkeepsie Thursday, and then in remarks to reporters after his speech, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about the need for federal gun legislature as well as universal background checks. Seth Harrison/Poughkeepsie Journal
After the Parkland shooting, GOP lawmakers said the state should add school-resource officers to schools. The state Sheriffs’ Association also called for more state aid for armed officers at schools.
“We are currently having important discussions about a comprehensive school safety plan that will ensure the state provides the support necessary to strengthen security and keep our children safe,” said state GOP spokesman Scott Reif.
But Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday said that while they would discuss ways to make schools safer, their primary focus is stronger gun-control laws.
“The SAFE Act is not enough to protect all our citizens the way they need to be protected. This is the moment,” said Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, D-Yonkers, who is running for the state Senate in a special election in April.
Hudson Valley school superintendents on Monday called on state and federal officials to enact stricter gun control laws and increase funding for mental-health services for children and their families.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ripped inaction by Congress on gun control, but he has yet to put forward his own plan to add to the SAFE Act.
Earlier this month, however, he helped started a multi-state coalition to seek tougher federal laws and to work more closely to fight gun violence.
“You still have these Washington politicians who refuse to stand up and do the right thing because they’re afraid of the consequences,” Cuomo said Thursday.
“You now have high school students, who in my opinion are showing more leadership than the leaders in Washington.”