Niagara Gazette — Cuomo and legislative leaders negotiated the bill's language behind closed doors, a regular occurrence in Albany. The bill was introduced on Monday evening, passed the Senate on Monday night and approved by the Assembly on Tuesday. Cuomo, who issued a special waiver to avoid the usual three-day window for lawmakers and the public to review bills, signed it into law late Tuesday afternoon.
Cuomo said in a radio interview Thursday that the one-day buying spree at gun stores would have turned into three if he hadn't asked lawmakers to shortcut the usual waiting period for acting on new legislation.
He said polling shows most New Yorkers favor tighter gun restrictions. A Siena College poll released Thursday showed 73 percent of the state's voters want the toughest assault weapon and magazine restrictions in the U.S.
The new law reduces the maximum legal magazine size from 10 bullets to seven. It redefines assault weapons to include semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines that have one military-style feature such as a pistol grip, flash suppressor or bayonet mount, instead of two. Owners of an estimated 1 million formerly legal guns can keep them but are required to register them with state police within a year.
The legislation was not a complete surprise to New York's estimated 4.75 million gun owners. Cuomo had promised tighter gun laws following the December slayings of 20 children and six educators at a Connecticut elementary school. Authorities said the gunman used a military-style semiautomatic rifle and 30-round magazines.
Cuomo said Thursday that gun control is a 30-year-old debate, and many bills were introduced previously. Legislators haven't wanted to offend some people on an issue they feel passionate about, and the Newtown, Conn., shootings were a catalyst.
"Reforms often come from incidents that occur. That's in history," Cuomo said. "The public is living their lives, then there's an incident. They focus. They have an opinion, and the politicians often follow the people."