Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

New York Assembly passes 5 gun control bills

New York Assembly passes 5 gun control bills

Although the Senate blocked attempts by Democrats last week to pass similar legislation, some Republican lawmakers said they have an open mind on the issue.

On Monday, Republican senators who hold the Senate majority with the help of a group of breakaway Democrats passed 15 bills involving school safety.

Bob Lowry, of the State Council of School Superintendents, said the association isn't prepared to take a position on gun control measures that don't touch on school security specifically, like the Assembly bills.

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None of the Assembly measures involve school security, but Heastie and other supporters of the legislation say the bills would keep firearms from getting into the hands of people intent on doing harm at a NY school.

"The Assembly majority refuses to accept gun violence and mass shootings as the new normal", Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) said. Other Republicans in the Senate have not ruled out taking up legislation, either. "You want our law enforcement officials in the LOB (Legislative Office Building) and the Capitol to protect you, but don't put them in the schools".

Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, said his group favors measures to better protect students in schools "rather than doing these insane, witch hunt-style laws that are not protecting anybody". Thorny issues sometimes get folded into the annual state budget process as a way to horse-trade using unrelated fiscal issues.

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"Just because these incidents happened recently in schools doesn't mean this is a school-only problem", Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, said Tuesday. Current federal regulations allow for licensed gun dealers to transfer a gun if the check has been delayed more than three days without an answer.

Heastie said the Assembly supports school safety efforts but made it clear that the Senate package was inadequate. He said permitting armed guards in schools sends "the wrong message" to students and "gives a false sense of security". She said she was concerned that too many people would be eligible to file a petition asking for the protective order against someone considered a threat to themselves or others.

Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston Spa, voted in favor of bills that would ban bump stocks and increase wait times for gun buyers flagged as needing more time to vet through mandatory background checks.

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Senate Democrats, who this year are seeking to wrest control of the 63-member from the GOP, hit Senate Republicans on the floor Monday and via the media on Tuesday.

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