Capitol Watch: NY strengthens gun license background check
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In New York state government news, Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week signed gun legislation that bolsters the state’s background check process for firearm licenses.
The law allows authorities to review out-of-state records tied to an applicant’s past or present mental illness.
The governor’s office says the new law will help stop “dangerously mentally ill” people from getting a firearm license in New York.
Here’s a look at that and other stories making the news:
BACKGROUND CHECK CHANGES:
Legislation signed by the state’s Democratic governor on Tuesday aims to close a “loophole” that his office says allows certain people with mental illness to apply for a firearm license in New York.
People who live in New York, but have an out-of-state permanent residence, can apply for a firearm license.
The recently approved law requires such applicants for a license to waive medical confidentiality rules that might otherwise prohibit New York authorities from investigating the applicant’s background in other states.
Bill sponsor state Sen. Anna Kaplan said the law ensures that part-time New Yorkers receive the same review as full-time residents.
“Our nation is plagued by an epidemic of gun violence that demands our full attention and action, and I’m proud that New York continues to lead the way,” she said in a statement.
Cuomo has also signed legislation clarifying that law enforcement authorities are allowed to access information on a person’s firearms license application, even if the applicant requests a public disclosure exemption.
New York state law gives handgun license holders the ability to request that application information be shielded from the public disclosure, but the new law will ensure that information will be available to law enforcement agents who might need to know whether there are guns present in homes where officers are being sent.
“While Washington stands idly by and allows a gun violence epidemic to tear our nation apart at the seams, causing more and more families to grieve and children to grow up without their parents, New York is leading the way,” Cuomo said in a statement.
NEW STATE LICENSE PLATE:
Amid controversy, New York has a new license plate design.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles on Friday announced the new state license plate design will feature the New York City skyline, Niagara Falls, the Statue of Liberty and a mountain range.
More than 325,000 votes were cast overall, with the winning design garnering about half the vote and beating out four other options, the department said. Cuomo said Saturday the winning plate was voters’ overwhelming choice. The governor added that he didn’t cast a vote or “even look at all the selections.”
The design announcement comes amid controversy as Republicans and some Democrats have complained about the Cuomo administration’s plan to require old license plates to be replaced once a decade, at a cost of $25.
State Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan, R-Long Island, has argued the plan would nickel-and-dime middle class taxpayers.
State DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder issued a statement Friday saying the new plates are needed for the statewide electronic tolling system. The system, he said, uses cameras to read the plates and charge tolls.
“I look forward to working with the Legislature in the coming months to establish a cost-effective system to distribute the new plates before then,” he said in the statement.
TACKLE FOOTBALL, CONCUSSION INFO:
Under a new law, youth tackle football programs will be required to provide informational packets on the dangers of concussions and sub-concussive blows.
Cuomo signed the legislation on Tuesday. The law applies to youth tackle football programs put on by schools, leagues and adult-run organizations.
“It is imperative that families realize the danger to their children when playing high-contact sports,” said state Assemblyman Michael Benedetto.
The law says the packets must include information on the possible impacts of concussions and sub-concussive blows. It takes effect in December.