Jun 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

New York passes bill banning under-21s from buying semi-automatic rifles

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during an event at LaGuardia Airport in the Queens borough of N.Y. on Wednesday, Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York's legislature passed a raft of new gun-safety bills on Thursday night, including a measure banning anyone younger than 21 from buying or possessing a semi-automatic rifle.

Driving the news: The legislation follows a spate of mass shootings in recent weeks, including an attack at a Buffalo, N.Y., supermarket in May that killed 10 people. An 18-year-old New York man is accused of using a semi-automatic rifle to carry out the shooting that the FBI is investigating as a racially motivated hate crime.

The big picture: The 10 bills that passed and head to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk to be signed are designed to "close loopholes and directly address the gaps in our laws exposed by the horrific shootings in Buffalo, Texas, and around the country," according to a a statement from the Democratic governor's office.

  • Along with raising the legal age a person can purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, the legislative package also bans most civilians from buying bullet-resistant body armor and strengthens red flag laws.

What they're saying: "Our nation-leading gun legislation package just passed both houses. New York is taking swift action to strengthen Red Flag laws, close loopholes, & protect communities," Hochul tweeted after the legislation passed.

  • Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the Democratic majority leader of the State Senate, tweeted, "We just passed a 10 bill package taking action on gun violence. Today we are sending a message that this path of gun violence is unacceptable and we need real change."

The other side: Several Republicans argued the new gun legislation would "inconvenience law-abiding firearms owners and could be easily circumvented by people determined to get weapons," AP reports.

What to watch: The legislation is expected to be challenged in the courts.

  • New York is already facing a lawsuit over handgun license restrictions that's due to come before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Worth noting: A federal appeals court ruled last month that California's ban on semi-automatic weapons sales to adults under 21 was unconstitutional.

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