New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a package of gun reform legislation on Monday that will increase the age to buy a rifle to 21, restrict the sales of body armor to specific professions, and revise the state’s red flag law.
The gun reforms come less than a month after an 18-year-old gunman allegedly used an AR-15 style rifle to murder 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket in what officials called a racist attack. “In New York, we are taking bold, strong action. We’re tightening the red flag laws to keep guns away from dangerous people,” Hochul said a press conference on Monday.
And we’re raising the age of semiautomatic weapons so no 18-year-old can walk in on their birthday and walk out with an AR-15. Those days are over.
Just weeks after the Buffalo shooting, another 18-year-old gunman allegedly used an AR-15 style rifle to kill 19 children and two adults at a Texas elementary school. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has resisted calls from some lawmakers in his state to reform gun laws, instead focusing on school safety and training law enforcement in active shooter situations.
The New York legislature passed the suite of bills last Thursday. People under the age of 21 in New York can still purchase bolt action rifles and shotguns, but semiautomatic rifles are now off-limits. Most New Yorkers between the ages of 18 and 21 were already banned from purchasing handguns.
The sale of body armor will now only be available to people in certain professions, such as law enforcement.
The package of legislation will also enhance New York’s red flag law, which allows courts to take away guns from people, and implement microstamping for new firearms, which is intended to help police track guns that are used in crimes.
The Buffalo shooter is accused of livestreaming the attack on Twitch and journaling his plans in a private server on Discord before the shooting. Part of the legislation signed by Hochul on Monday will require “social media networks in New York to provide a clear and concise policy regarding how they would respond to incidents of hateful conduct on their platform.”
As of right now, the ban does not cover hard armor plates, helmets, or shields. It only covers soft armor panels.
The text of the new law is available here:
It notes that “A PERSON IS GUILTY OF THE UNLAWFUL PURCHASE OF A BODY VEST WHEN, NOT BEING ENGAGED OR EMPLOYED IN AN ELIGIBLE PROFESSION, THEY KNOWINGLY PURCHASE OR TAKE POSSESSION OF A BODY VEST, AS SUCH TERM IS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION 270.20 OF THIS ARTICLE.”
(All caps in the original.)
So for the definition of “body armor” or “body vest,” they tell you to look to an older law outlined in Section 270.20 of the NY Penal Code. 270.20 is available here: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PEN/270.20
It says: “For the purposes of this section a “body vest” means a bullet-resistant soft body armor providing, as a minimum standard, the level of protection known as threat level I which shall mean at least seven layers of bullet-resistant material providing protection from three shots of one hundred fifty-eight grain lead ammunition fired from a .38 calibre handgun at a velocity of eight hundred fifty feet per second.”
So NY basically just banned the sale and possession of soft body armor. The law, clearly and explicitly, does not apply to other types of body armor.
Other media outlets have started to report on this “oversight.” See, e.g.: https://www.thetrace.org/2022/06/new-york-body-armor-ban-buffalo-shooting/