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New York Fires First Shot

Gov. Cuomo successfully pushes a comprehensive gun-control law through the Legislature

by Erin Pihlaja on January 17, 2013


Both sides now: Protestors outside the Saratoga City Center. Photo by Erin PIhlaja.

On Tuesday (Jan. 15), Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature finalized the New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, making New York the first state to pass stricter gun legislation since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.

Among other provisions, the law broadens the definition of what an assault weapon is, limits the capacity of magazines to seven bullets instead of 10, and imposes stricter regulations on the purchase of ammunition. New York SAFE also includes a Webster provision that mandates a life sentence with no chance of parole for killing a first responder, and allows law enforcement to remove guns from the possession of those deemed by mental-health professionals to be a threat to themselves or others. The legislation was pushed through the Senate quickly, passing with a 43-18 vote at around 11 PM on Monday.

“It is comprehensive. It is sound,” said Cuomo. “It addresses the multifaceted problem that we’re dealing with. It protects, I believe, hunters and sportsmen, et cetera, and legitimate gun owners.”

Demands for tougher legislation likely prompted the governor’s aggressive initiative. This past Saturday (Jan. 12), protests outside of the Saratoga City Center caught the attention of many media outlets as groups for gun regulations and those against them gathered outside of the venue that hosted the Saratoga Arms show.

“We are not here to vilify villanize or crucify law-abiding gun owners,” MoveOn.org member Susan Weber told the crowd. “We are not here to advocate the end of gun rights.”

Albany County District Attorney David Soares thanked both sides of the discussion for their participation. He added, “I do not believe that any hunter needs to have a magazine that is carrying such a high capacity of bullets in them. After all, we are hunting deer and not zombies.”

Kathryn Cuneo, a 10-year-old fifth grader from Saratoga Springs, said, “I am here to ask that we change our gun laws so we don’t have school shootings anymore. I know that people want to own guns, but do they really need a gun that shoots so many people so fast and so quick quickly?”

Robert Arrigo, who organized the rally for “Second Amendment rights” said, “Why do I need 10 rounds? Do I need [them] to hunt? No. . . . Do I need [them] to defend my family? I could. And while I . . . cannot predict the future, neither can you. . . . You [should not] have the right to tell me what I can and cannot defend my family with.”

“When I decided to get back into target shooting, I bought an AR-15, because that is what our government trained me on when I was in the Marines,” said Scot Prehn of Saratoga Springs. “I don’t own it for hunting or assaulting anyone, I own it because I like to put holes in paper. Some people like working out, some people . . . doing crafts, some people scrapbook—I like put holes in paper and do it with as good of accuracy as I can.” Prehn also brought up the open source initiative to offer plans online to print weapons with 3-D printers.

“Right now the technology exists that you can actually print . . . the lower receiver of an AR-15,” he said. “You can mail-order the proper components to put together a completely functional AR-15. So if your solution is to take these things away, technology is going to work against you.”

Charlie Samuels, organizer of Saratogians for Gun Safety, appealed to both sides of the debate. “We all need to join together and solve this problem. The bottom line is that mass shootings have become such a common occurrence in our country that we no longer have a civil society. Change is here and we are in the middle of it.”

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