‘Thoughts and prayers won’t fix this’: New York raises legal age to buy semi-automatic weapons

Governor Kathy Hochul has signed a package of gun-related bills that also restrict body armor sales following mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa

Blood and bullets on the sidewalk following a shooting in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Blood and bullets on the sidewalk following a shooting in Philadelphia on Sunday.Michael Perez (AP)

New York has raised the legal age to buy semi-automatic rifles. State Governor Katy Hochul, a Democrat, on Monday signed 10 gun-related bills, including one making it illegal for New Yorkers under the age of 21 to purchase the type of weapon that was used in recent mass shootings in the United States.

Until now, the age limit was 18, the same age as the shooter who killed 10 people in Buffalo (NY) and the one who shot dead 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde (Texas). Another shooter recently killed four people in Tulsa (Oklahoma), and there have been dozens more incidents across the country since then.

“We cannot keep living like this,” said Hochul. “Gun violence is an epidemic that is tearing our country apart. Thoughts and prayers won’t fix this, but taking strong action will.”

The state legislature had cleared the bills on Thursday. The landmark package also limits body armor sales to certain specific professions, and introduces microstamping for new firearms, a move aimed at helping investigators track weapons that are used in crimes.

The new legislation also enhances New York’s “red flag” law, which gives authorities some leeway to take away guns from individuals considered dangerous.

At the signing, Governor Hochul urged national authorities to follow in the footsteps of New York. “I once again urge Congress to follow our lead and take immediate action to pass meaningful gun violence prevention measures. Lives depend on it.”

But President Joe Biden has already admitted the difficulty of getting Republican support to push tougher legislation through Congress. Indeed, Republican congressman Chris Jacobs, whose district includes suburban Buffalo, dropped out of his re-election campaign last week after his public support for an assault weapons ban sparked an angry reaction from his party.

More than 124 people have been killed and 325 injured in the more than 300 shootings recorded in the US since last Friday, according to GunViolenceArchive.org, a Washington-based non-profit that tracks firearm incidents across the country. The average is staggering: at least one and a half every day.

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