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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Webster Provision is Well Placed in New York Gun Control Law

New York Gun Control Law Also Makes it Criminal to Use Guns Against First Reponders- called the "Webster Provision".  Nevertheless, there are already 1 million assault weapons already in the hands of gun owners.....unbelievable.

This law is an important public safety provision because heroic First Responders certainly can't risk being "set up" by criminals, when they are trained to save lives.

In advance of President Barack Obama's report to the nation on a plan for implementing gun control, especially about the sale of assault weapons and ammunition, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, signed an aggressive state reform today. This law helps build momentum in advance of the President's announcements expected tomorrow.  Although gun control laws are long overdue in this nation, thousands are killed while hoarders build arsenals, the implementation of reforms comes with risk.  Politicians are more fearful of criticism from the National Rifle Association than they are of voters!  Therefore, many Republicans cave to the special interests of the gun lobby.

Finally, after years of trying, New York became the first state to dramatically stiffen its gun laws, after last month's horrific school shooting of children in Newtown CT, by passing a tough assault weapons ban and provisions to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill who make threats.

"This is a scourge on society," Cuomo said Monday night, six days after making gun control a centerpiece of his State of the State address. The bipartisan effort was fueled by the Newtown tragedy that took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators. "At what point do you say, 'No more innocent loss of life'?"

The measure, passed the Assembly 104-43, and also calls for restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns.

"This is not about taking anyone's rights away," said Sen. Jeffrey Klein, a Bronx Democrat, when the bill passed the Senate late Monday night. "It's about a safe society ... today we are setting the mark for the rest of the county to do what's right."

Under current state law, assault weapons are defined by having two "military rifle" features such as folding stock, muzzle flash suppressor or bayonet mount. The proposal reduces that to one feature and includes the popular pistol grip.

Private sales of assault weapons to someone other than an immediate family will be subject to a background check through a dealer. New Yorkers also would be barred from buying assault weapons over the Internet, and failing to safely store a weapon could lead to a misdemeanor charge.

Ammunition magazines will be restricted to seven bullets, from the current 10, and current owners of higher-capacity magazines will have a year to sell them out of state. An owner caught at home with eight or more bullets in a magazine will face a misdemeanor charge.

Another provision places requirements on therapists, psychologists, registered nurses and licensed social workers who believe a mental health patient made a credible threat to use a gun illegally. They would be required to report such a threat to a mental health director, who would have to notify the state. Any registered handguns — or registered assault weapons purchased before the ban — could be taken from the patient.

Moreover, this law also increases sentences for gun crimes including the shooting of a first responder that Cuomo called the "Webster provision." Last month in Webster, two firefighters were killed after responding to a fire set by the shooter, who eventually killed himself. 

The measure passed the Senate 43-18 on the strength of support from Democrats, many of whom previously sponsored bills that were once blocked by Republicans.

The governor confirmed the proposal, previously worked out in closed session, also mandate a police registry of assault weapons, grandfathering in the estimated 1 million assault weapons already in private hands.

It was agreed upon exactly a month since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

"It is well-balanced, it protects the Second Amendment," said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Long Island.

Cuomo said he wanted quick action to avoid a run on assault weapons and ammunition.

Assemblyman Steve Katz said legislators were being "bullied." He said the bill is "solely for the governor's egotistical, misguided notion." (It doesn't seem, to me, to be misguided and egotistical to want to prevent more deaths by gun violence.)

Republicans argued the bill wouldn't stop mass shootings or other gun crimes but instead turns law-abiding into potential criminals.

Republican Assemblyman James Tedisco said the bill was dangerous because it would give people a "false sense of well-being."

"You're using innocent children killed by a mad man for a political agenda," said Tedisco. "You're actually making people less safe." 

But, Maine Writer responds, the Republican Assemblyman Tedisco obviously didn't have family members involved in the horrific tragic murder of innocent children in Newtown, CT.

American voters must demand public safety provisions from the Congress. Political leaders have a moral obligation to follow Governor Cuomo's brave leadership, to protect innocent people from preventable deaths by gun violence. These provisions are long overdue, albeit absolutely necessary. If germs were the cause of thousands of preventable deaths, we'd be dealing with a public health crises. "Guns" are the "germs" we must eradicate to prevent gun violence.

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