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Hochul wants to raise the age to buy some guns in NY to 21 after Buffalo and Texas mass shootings

 Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at an event about gun control efforts on Wednesday, May 25 2022.
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New York Governor's Office
Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks at an event about gun control efforts on Wednesday, May 25 2022.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Wednesday that she wants New York to raise the age to buy an AR-15 rifle to 21 years old, up from the current floor of 18, in response to the recent mass shootings in Texas and Buffalo.

“How does an 18-year-old purchase an AR-15 in the state of New York, the state of Texas? That person’s not old enough to buy a legal drink,” Hochul said. “I want to work with the Legislature to change that. I want it to be 21. I think that’s just common sense.”

It’s a last-minute proposal, with just three scheduled days of this year’s legislative session left, but Hochul said she was confident the Legislature would be willing to work with her on the change.

She pointed to the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, where 10 people were killed a week and a half ago at a local grocery store, and Uvalde, Texas, where 21 people — including 19 children — were killed at an elementary school on Tuesday.

“The common denominator? There are three,” Hochul said. “The weapon was an AR-15, the perpetrator was a male, and the age of the perpetrator was 18. I don’t want 18-year-olds to have guns, at least not in the state of New York.”

Hochul said she would like to see the state raise the age of purchase for AR-15 rifles, “at minimum,” but that other guns could be included as well.

New York approved a ban on most military-style weapons in 2013 after 26 people were killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT a month earlier.

Despite that ban, certain versions of the AR-15 are legal in New York and available to purchase. The shooter in Buffalo, for example, purchased his AR-15 in New York and was able to modify it and use a magazine from Pennsylvania to load more ammunition.

Hochul, last week, said she wanted to address military-style weapons that have evaded New York’s gun laws, but it’s unclear how the Legislature plans to meet that proposal, if at all, before they leave Albany for the year next week.

She’s also thrown her support behind a handful of other gun bills, including requirements for law enforcement to report recovered or seized guns within 24 hours, and a system for microstamping ammunition to match with the owner’s firearm.

The last scheduled day of this year’s legislative session is next Thursday, but Hochul said it’s possible that lawmakers could return to address a separate gun issue as well.

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently considering a case that could modify the state’s rules around concealed carry of firearms.

Hochul said that, if the high court loosens those rules, she would be open to calling lawmakers back to the Capitol to approve a new law that complies with the decision, but reinforces stricter rules for concealed carry in New York.

That decision is expected from the court in the coming weeks.

Dan Clark is the host and producer of New York NOW, a weekly television show focusing on state government produced by WMHT in Albany. Clark has been reporting on New York state government and politics for the last six years, during which time he's worked out of the state Capitol in Albany. Clark reported for the national political fact-checking publication PolitiFact, the Buffalo News, the statewide political television show Capital Tonight, and most recently the New York Law Journal. At the New York Law Journal, Clark has focused on state legal challenges to President Donald Trump, as well as litigation concerning laws enacted by the New York State Legislature. Clark covered the Legislature in each role he's held and is a familiar face to state lawmakers and staff. Clark is a native of Afton, NY in Chenango County. He's lived in Albany with his husband since 2011.