New York Passes Gun Ban Weeks After Federal Court Declares Similar Law Unconstitutional

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D.) signs gun-control bills / Getty Images
June 7, 2022

New York Democratic governor Kathy Hochul on Monday signed a bill that bans individuals under 21 from purchasing semiautomatic rifles, even though a U.S. circuit court just weeks before declared a similar law in California to be unconstitutional.

The bill, one of 10 sweeping gun-control measures that Hochul signed in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, raises the minimum age to buy a semiautomatic rifle, including the popular Ruger Mini-14 and SKS, from 18 to 21. New York, which as of 2020 has the fifth-lowest gun homicide rate in the nation, already bans people under 21 from owning handguns.

The mass shootings have galvanized blue-state politicians to restrict gun rights. In addition to Hochul's moves, Democratic legislators in California and New Jersey are considering additional gun restrictions.

New York's under-21 ban is startlingly similar to a California law that a U.S. circuit court struck down in May. The Ninth District Circuit Court of Appeals on May 11 ruled that California's law banning individuals under 21 from purchasing semiautomatic rifles is unconstitutional.

"America would not exist without the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army," Judge Ryan Nelson wrote. "Today we reaffirm that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms."

In addition to the under-21 ban, New York now requires any resident seeking to buy a semiautomatic rifle to get a license, bans bulletproof body vests, and mandates that social media platforms "provide a clear and concise policy regarding how they would respond to incidents of hateful conduct," among other measures.