Bolstering mental health programs, increasing penalties for gun crimes and supporting efforts on the county-government level to reduce violence are among the proposals by Republican lawmakers in the state Senate meant to counter violent crime in New York.
The proposals were announced Wednesday, the second-to-last day of the legislative session and after Democratic lawmakers who hold majorities in both chambers of the Legislature coalesced around a package of gun control measures that include licensing semiautomatic weapons in New York going forward.
Measures to address crime and mass shootings come amid growing concerns around public safety and in the wake of mass shootings at an elementary school in Texas and one at a supermarket in Buffalo.
“The shooting in Buffalo has rocked our community and less than two weeks later the horrific attack on the kids attending school in Uvalde, Texas has our nation in mourning," Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt said. "These despicable acts of evil must never happen again. It’s time our state gets serious about enacting real initiatives that can stop violence in its tracks. Our ‘Safer NY Plan’ does just that. The Legislature must act now."
The Republican-backed proposals include putting a resource officer in every school building and creating a mental health services coordinator program to improve access to services. The package also includes extra funding for police to help investigate gun crimes and threat assessment training programs to police, first responders and school officials.
“The brutal massacres in Buffalo and Uvalde have left New Yorkers and all Americans heartbroken and searching for solutions to prevent such horrific acts before they end innocent lives," said state Sen George Borrello. "A step forward here in New York would be to target the glaring gaps in our mental health system and crime policies, which raise the risks of senseless violence."
Lawmakers this week are finalizing a package of gun control measures that, taken together, are the most significant measures since the passage of the SAFE Act in 2013.
In addition to licensing semiautomatic rifles and requiring license holders to be at least 21 years old, lawmakers are expanding a law that is meant to keep guns away from people deemed to be a danger to themselves or others as well as a measure requiring microstamping of new pistols.
But unlike the SAFE Act's approval nearly a decade ago, the gun control measures this week are being approved largely in partisan votes in Albany.