New York governor signs nation’s first gun-control bill since Newtown
By David Ariosto, NEW YORK (CNN) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed into law a new package of gun regulations intended to fortify New York’s existing assault weapons ban, limit the number of bullets in magazines and strengthen rules that keep the mentally ill from owning firearms.
The regulations are the nation’s first since last month’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 27 people, including 20 young children at an elementary school.
Cuomo, a self-described gun owner, said the tragedy had spurred lawmakers to action and called the legislation a “common sense” measure.
“You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and common sense,” he said.
Both New York’s GOP-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled Assembly approved it by overwhelming margins, roughly a week after Cuomo spelled out tough new gun control proposals in his annual State of the State address.
Cuomo, a first-term Democratic governor, had called for a tightening of the state’s assault weapons ban, background checks for people who purchase guns in private transactions and more restrictions on high-capacity magazines.
The deal includes a statewide gun registry and adds a uniform licensing standard across the state, altering the current system, in which each county or municipality sets a standard.
Residents are also restricted to purchasing ammunition magazines that carry seven bullets, rather than 10.
It remains unclear what effect the measure will have on the state’s already stringent approach to gun control.
“The changes in New York are largely cosmetic,” said CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, who described existing regulations as “the toughest gun laws in the United States.”
“The one change that arguably will have the greatest impact is the amendment to Kendra’s Law, which will permit closer monitoring of the mentally ill,” he said.
That 1999 law grants New York judges the authority to require residents to undergo psychiatric treatment if they meet certain criteria.
The new measures extend Kendra’s Law through 2017, expand outpatient treatment from six months to a year and require reviews before such treatment is allowed to expire.
New York’s mental health professionals will also be governed by a new set of rules that require them to report their patients to the state should those patients exhibit behavior suggesting they could be harmful to themselves or others.
“We’re opening up an unprecedented window into what goes on in the therapy room,” said Dr. Paul S. Appelbaum, director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
“It would effect a major change in the usual presumptions of confidentiality.”
The bill also creates mandatory life sentences for anyone who murders certain first responders, a provision that comes after two firefighters were killed in an ambush as they battled a blaze in upstate New York.
The vote coincides with a series of recommendations put together by Vice President Joe Biden meant to address the nation’s gun violence.
Lawmakers in at least 10 other states are reviewing some form of new gun regulations in the new year.
CNN’s Dana Ford, Mary Snow and Yon Pomrenze contributed to this report
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