"Common sense can win," Cuomo said. "You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and with reason and with common sense."
Owners of an estimated 1 million previously legal semiautomatic rifles, such as the Bushmaster model used to kill 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., a month ago, will be allowed to keep their weapons but will have a year to register them with police. The sale of any more such weapons is prohibited.
"When there's a pileup of events, when the federal government does not do it, the state of New York has to lead the way," said state Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, a Brooklyn Democrat and co-sponsor.
Only Democrats Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Sean Ryan were the Western New Yorkers who voted in favor of the bill. Republican David DiPietro, gave an impassioned explanation of his vote. "Governor Cuomo doesn't care about the people's agenda, he only cares about becoming president in 2016, beating Obama to the punch and getting on the six o'clock news first," exclaimed DiPietro.
DiPietro told his colleagues the bill infringed on law abiding citizens' rights while doing nothing to protect criminals.
Fellow Republican Jane Corwin says the bill doesn't solve the shooting in Connecticut, which prompted the discussion. "(The shooter) was not convicted of a felony, he was not committed to a mental institution and was never the subject of an order of protection," Corwin says.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed hard for the legislation and is expected to quickly sign it into law.
The measure calls for restrictions on ammunition and the sale of guns. It subjects private sale of assault weapons to someone other than an immediate family member to a background check.
Also, a therapist or other caregiver who believes a mental health patient made a credible threat to use a gun illegally would have to report it to a mental health director who must notify the state. A patient's gun could be confiscated.