Today’s Solutions: May 19, 2024

In the wake of multiple mass shootings, there’s been a lot of serious discussion concerning who should have access to guns. Earlier this month, New York’s legislature decided to ban anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing or possessing a semi-automatic rifle. 

What is a semi-automatic rifle?

A semi-automatic rifle is a gun that automatically loads each bullet after firing. Firing only requires pulling the trigger for each round, which makes it possible for mass murders to happen in a short window of time.

What will the new legislation do?

Before these gun limitations were introduced, people as young as 16 could have possession of long guns such as rifles and shotguns without a license in New York (though buyers did have to be 18 to purchase one from a federally licensed firearms dealer). 

This significant change to state firearm laws is part of a larger package of gun control measures announced last week by Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul. The age limit bill passed the Senate along party lines, 43-20, and in the Assembly 102-47. It comes less than three weeks after an 18-year-old used a semi-automatic gun to massacre 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo.

Other notable changes in the legislation include preventing civilian purchases of bullet-resistant armor, which the killer was wearing in Buffalo, and requiring new guns to be equipped with micros taming technology. This helps law enforcement investigators trace bullets to specific firearms. The bill will also oblige anyone buying a semi-automatic rifle to get a license, something that was previously only required for handguns.

Many Republicans argued that the new gun limitations would be easily thwarted by anyone determined to get a weapon and would only inconvenience law-abiding firearms owners. 

Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat, had other thoughts. “It is meant to be a hassle to those folks who might want to get their hands quickly on something with which they could mass murder people,” he said. 

The new legislation will bring New York into the company of a few other states like Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, and Washington, which already require buyers of some types of long guns to be 21 years of age rather than 18.

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