(Headline USA) New Yorkers under age 21 will be prohibited from buying semiautomatic rifles under a new law signed Monday by Gov. Kathy Hochul, making the state among the first to enact a major gun control initiative following a wave of deadly mass shootings.
The controversial move may block legal, law-abiding adult US citizens from a constitutionally protected right enumerated by the US Bill of Rights. It also may be a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause due to the arbitrary and capricious age discrimination involved.
Hochul, a Democrat, signed 10 public safety-related bills, including one that will require microstamping in new firearms, which could help law enforcement solve gun-related crimes.
Another revised the state’s “red flag” law, which allows courts to temporarily take away guns from people whom it deems to be a threat to themselves or others.
“In New York, we are taking bold, strong action. We’re tightening red flag laws to keep guns away from dangerous people,” Hochul said at a press conference in the Bronx.
New York’s Legislature passed the bills last week, pushing the changes through after a pair of mass shootings involving 18-year-old gunmen using semiautomatic rifles.
Ten people died May 14 in a racially motivated attack on a Buffalo supermarket by an avowed leftist with mental health issues. A Texas school shooting took the lives of 19 children and two teachers 10 days later.
The hasty and overreaching reaction in New York further illustrated the sharp divide between Republican and Democratic leaders on how to respond to gun violence.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said after the massacre of children in Uvalde that government should increase security in schools and resources for mental health, but the Republican says stricter gun laws are ineffective.
Fellow Republican Gov. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee echoed similar sentiments Monday, a day after gunfire near a Chattanooga nightclub left three people dead and multiple people wounded.
It also underscored the ineffectiveness of existing gun-control laws which are rarely enforced by corrupt prosecutors in places like New York City, where violent crime has run rampant in recent years. In New York, most people under age 21 had already been banned from owning handguns.
Under the new law, adult citizens ages 18-20 will still be allowed to own other types of long guns, including shotguns and bolt-action rifles.
Part of New York’s new law will also require all purchasers of semiautomatic rifles to get a license, something now required only for handguns.
Proposed federal legislation that would require buyers of semiautomatic weapons to be 21 is advancing in the U.S. House, but is seen as facing long odds in the Senate.
A handful of states require people to be 21 to purchase any firearms, including Florida, which raised the age for legally purchasing a rifle after a 19-year-old gunman killed 17 people at a high school.
Hochul also signed a bill Monday that will restrict sales of bullet-resistant vests and armor only to people in certain professions.
The governor said New York will continue to invest in prevention of gun-related crimes by partnering with local communities and continuing to strengthen laws by putting pressure on Congress.
“Today is the start, and it’s not the end,” said Hochul. “Thoughts and prayers won’t fix this, but taking strong action will. We will do that in the name of the lives that have been lost, for the parents who will no longer see their children stepping off the school bus.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press