New York‘s governor signed a bill that raised the age for buying a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21 on Monday, as she tightened gun laws following the racist massacre at a supermarket in Buffalo.
Gov. Kathy Hochul approved a package of gun reform laws that had been passed by the state senate in the wake of last month’s shooting that killed 10 Black people.
The measures come amid a spate of mass killings that have sparked renewed calls for greater gun control laws.
The suspect, 18, is accused of gunning down the shoppers at Tops Friendly Market using a an AR-15 assault rifle that he had bought legally.
As well as being at least 21 years old, buyers of semiautomatic rifles will now also have to obtain a permit, meaning undergoing a background check.
Democratic New York already has some of the strongest gun laws in America.
“Gun violence is an epidemic that is tearing our country apart. Thoughts and prayers won’t fix this, but taking strong action will,” Hochul said.
“This is a moral moment for the people of New York but also the rest of the nation. Follow what we did here in New York and we’ll finally start to be at the beginning of the end of all this gun violence and the massacres that are occurring every day in our country.”
Another law signed by Hochul restricts the purchase of bullet resistant vests and body armor to law enforcement or related professions. The package also requires social media companies operating in New York to adopt transparent policies on how they respond to hate speech on their platforms.
The suspect in the Buffalo shooting, a white supremacist, was wearing heavy body armor during his alleged attack on May 14.
Hochul also agreed to expand the state’s “red flag” laws, which allow courts to take away guns from people deemed a risk to themselves and others.
“While we are taking expedient action to enhance New York State’s nation-leading gun laws, we recognize that gun violence is a nationwide problem,’ said Hochul. “I once again urge Congress to follow our lead and take immediate action to pass meaningful gun violence prevention measures. Lives depend on it.”