In the aftermath of the Buffalo grocery shooting where a gunman killed 10 people, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed sweeping gun reforms in the state. The laws made New York’s red flag laws more robust, prohibited the sale of body armor, and raised the legal age to buy a rifle to 21.
Most people under the age of 21 are already prohibited from purchasing handguns but adults between the age of 18 and 21 will still be able to purchase shotguns and bolt-action rifles.
New York already had some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. The state also has some of the highest rates of gun crime, especially in New York City. It is unclear what impact the current legislation will have, if any, on rising crime in the Empire State.
Most of the perpetrators in recent mass shootings have been known to the surrounding community and even the authorities. It is unclear if legislation enacted in New York will prevent these types of shootings, or if criminals will simply adapt to alternative means.
There is an added wrinkle to gun laws in New York in that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is expected to rule on restrictions that are over a decade old on carrying handguns in the state. If SCOTUS were to strike down the law, or go further and say there is a constitutional right to carry a firearm free of state restriction, it could create immediate challenges to the New York laws signed by Hochul.
Gun crime is a complex problem that will require more than mere restrictions on purchasing them. In fact, restrictions could lead to much larger consequences than any shootings we’ve had to mourn over the years. We don’t want to let the government start chipping away at a fundamental right, as a disarmed population is a defenseless population.