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New Gun Laws, Money for School Safety Poised to Pass in N.Y.

UPDATED

UPDATE: Cuomo signed the legislation, dubbed the NY SAFE (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement) Act, on Jan. 15, after the state assembly passed it the same day.

Legislation dealing with firearms and school safety supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is rocketing through New York state at a relatively breakneck pace. On Jan. 14, Cuomo, a Democrat, saw new restrictions on guns in New York state pass the state Senate, and the Post-Standard in Syracuse reports that the state Assembly is expected to pass the bill on Jan. 15, less than a week after he announced his new gun control push.

Cuomo said in his Jan. 9 State of the State speech that the Empire State should pass "the toughest assault weapons ban in the nation" following the Dec. 14 school shootings in neighboring Newtown, Conn., in which 20 students and six school staff members were killed. But there other pieces to the bill from Cuomo's desk that the Senate passed.

On a practical level, the legislation provides a boost to school security by providing aid for schools to install additional stationary metal detectors and security cameras. It also establishes "school safety improvement teams" that will review schools' safety plans, submitted on a voluntary basis. Interestingly, these teams will only work with districts that have a "population" of less than 125,000, although it's not specified exactly why these teams can't or won't work with larger districts.

The bill also creates a new felony, for possessing a firearm on school grounds without written authorization—the new felony is Class E, the felony with the shortest jail sentence among felony crimes in New York.

There could be a great deal of other activity on gun control and school safety measures in states in 2013. Informally, at least, a few governors may end up competing with each other to pass "tough" or the "toughest" new gun laws in the nation. In addition to an assault weapons ban and other new restrictions, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, wants to place more restrictions on visitors' access to schools, according to the Washington Post. For example, prospective gun buyers, other than those seeking hunting rifles and shotguns, would have to submit to digital fingerprinting as part of the new firearms permit process in Maryland.

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