NY governor signs new curbs on guns after mass shootings

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a press conference in New York City on April 12, 2022, after at least 16 people were injured during a rush-hour shooting at a subway station in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (ANGELA WEISS / AFP)

New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday signed a packet of 10 gun control bills into law, setting new limits on buying assault-style weapons and body armor, among other measures, in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas.

The legislation, passed on Thursday by the state legislature, raises the age required to buy or possess a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21. New York already requires people to be 21 to possess a handgun.

The legislation, passed on Thursday by the state legislature, raises the age required to buy or possess a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21. New York already requires people to be 21 to possess a handgun

The bill was signed by the Democratic governor after 10 people were slain last month at a supermarket in the western New York city of Buffalo by an 18-year-old with a semi-automatic rifle. Days after that massacre, another 18-year-old fatally shot 19 students and two teachers at a school in Uvalde, Texas.

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"We cannot keep living like this," Hochul said at a bill-signing ceremony in New York City.

"This is a moral moment for the people of New York but also the rest of the nation," said Hochul. "Follow what we did here in New York and we'll finally start to be at the beginning of the end of all this gun violence and the massacres that are occurring every day in our country."

Another law signed by Hochul restricts the purchase of bullet resistant vests and body armor to law enforcement or related professions. The package also requires social media companies operating in New York to adopt transparent policies on how they respond to hate speech on their platforms.

The gunman in Buffalo wore body armor during his shooting spree, and shared his intention on social media to carry out such a rampage before the attack.

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In most places in New York, people as young as 16 would still be allowed to have other types of rifles and shotguns.

New York now joins a handful of states — including Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, and Washington – that require buyers to be at least 21 to buy some types of long guns, media accounts say. Similar legislation has been proposed in Utah.

California's attempt to raise the legal buying age for a semiautomatic weapons has been challenged in court.

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