I am thrilled that New York has taken the lead on new gun control legislation. Importantly, the NY SAFE Act received bipartisan support. It was passed and signed in the second day of the 2013 legislative session with a significant majority in both the House and the Senate. Governor Cuomo signed the bill just one month and one day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murders.
In signing it, Governor Cuomo said " I am proud to be part of this government, not just because New York has the first bill, but because New York has the best bill." Let's take a look at just how good it is.
The NY SAFE Act bans the sale of assault weapons. According to Elisabeth Fosslien's charts on Business Insider, 68 percent of guns used in mass murders are assault or semi-assault weapons. Yet, only seven states have bans on assault weapons: California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Hawaii. We need more governors and state legislatures to bring these bans into law.
The NY SAFE Act requires mental health professionals to report to local mental health officials when they believe a patient is likely to engage in behavior dangerous to themselves or to others. In a recent public study conducted by Gallup and referenced in Elisabeth Fosslien's gun charts, increasing government spending on mental health was cited by 78 percent of respondents as likely to decrease mass shooting. This provision is a step in the right direction.
The NY SAFE Act bans any magazine that can hold more than seven rounds, and tracks all sales of ammunition in real time. In recent years, mass shootings have been executed primarily with weapons capable of firing up to 100 shots without reloading. This reduction in magazine capacity is essential for the safety of citizens, and the reduction of the number of people who can be slaughtered at any one time.
The NY SAFE Act ensures that private sales of guns are subject to background checks in real time. Forty percent of guns sold in the U.S. are sold through private sales, which makes the current gun control laws on a national basis no more effective than trying to retain water in a sieve.
There are many other provisions of the law, but what I think is important is that New York is demonstrating the will to take on the issue of public safety. It is no longer acceptable simply to weep in sympathy with the families of the slain. It is our civic duty to protect our citizens, while still protecting the right of gun owners to own and enjoy their guns for sport and self- protection.
I say it's time the states act with common sense and put similar bans in place. We are a nation of 50 states, and we are only as protected as the weakest among us. The sooner we come to that realization, the safer our country will be.