New York to Raise the Age for Semi-Automatic Rifles and Ban Body Armor

Photo: Darren McGee/Office of Governor Hochul

In the aftermath of the mass shootings at a Buffalo grocery store and Uvalde, Texas, Democrats in New York dramatically strengthened the state’s gun laws, raising the age to purchase the kind of devastating weapon used in both attacks.

Lawmakers passed a package of gun-control measures Thursday evening, a series of 10 bills that constitute significant changes to gun laws that are already relatively strict by U.S. standards. The legislation now heads to Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk to await her signature.

The new bills mandate that New Yorkers be licensed to purchase a semi-automatic rifle and moves the minimum age of purchase for one from 18 to 21. In addition, the legislation outlaws the sale of bulletproof body armor, like the one worn by the Buffalo shooter, to anyone outside an “eligible profession” such as law enforcement or the military. Sellers would be required to conduct body-armor vest sales to qualified buyers in person rather than online.

The legislation would also establish a microstamping program that would require newly manufactured guns to mark its bullet cartridges with a unique code that would make it easier to trace it back to the original weapon. And it would expand the state’s red-flag law by making more people eligible to file a report to petition a judge to bar someone from possessing guns.

The bills would create a new task force, based in the attorney general’s office, with a focus on violent extremism and social media and require state and local law enforcement to share information on guns with federal agencies.

Hochul praised the passage of the legislation in a statement, saying that the recent trend of shootings show that New Yorkers shouldn’t “be satisfied by New York’s already tough gun laws.”

New York to Raise the Age for Semi-Automatic Rifles to 21