posted on January 15, 2013 13:14
The New York State Senate overwhelmingly passed new gun control legislation by a vote of 43 to 18, making New York the first state in the U.S. to enact such a law since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre last month.
Local State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, though, says the bill does not make people safer.
“I really don’t think we solved the problem," Ranzenhofer said, "and I’m uncomfortable going back to folks in Alexander or Bergen and saying, ‘O.K., the law passed; you’re now safer.’ I don’t think we could tell people with any degree of certainty or confidence that that’s the case.”
The NY SAFE Act, as it’s called, includes an immediate ban on semi-automatic rifles and pistols with “military-style” features, a ban on magazines that hold more than seven rounds, requires universal background checks for all gun sales, and stricter penalties for firearm-related crimes.
Ranzenhofer says he was disappointed with the unusual, rushed process for the vote and wished that lawmakers had more time to process and evaluate the legislation and get input from the community.
“Never have I seen one particular piece of legislation move through the senate with the lightning speed that it moved through with last night," he said. "This is the first time in my senate career where a bill has been placed on my desk which is of such importance to so many people where we really haven’t had the opportunity to carefully go through it and come back to the community to allow them to weigh in”
He says the bill does little to address the root of the issue.
“I think it’s a good first step…but it doesn’t deal with the cultural violence that we have in our society, whether it be video games, television, movies, or the like. I don’t think it deals with the issue of bullying.”
Ranzenhofer says lawmakers need to address the causes of gun violence culturally and socially instead of affecting law-abiding citizens.
“How do you deal with the person that no one really has a handle on, in terms of they’re not in any formal (mental health) process, how do you deal with those 18 to 34 – generally males -- who go out and obtain an illegal gun? It doesn’t touch on that issue.”
While the bill addresses school safety, Ranzenhofer says it is incomplete.
“There’s really nothing…about giving schools the opportunity to hire undercover officers, police officers, or reinstituting the resource officer that we had at our schools a couple of years ago so that if something happens, someone is at the school to react.
“And what if it doesn’t happen at a school? What about our churches? What are we doing with our shopping malls to address that situation? In the rush to get something done, I really don’t think we solved the problem.”
The bill also includes a “Webster provision” which calls for a life-without-parole prison sentence for anyone who murders a first responder.