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One district attorney sees plusses and minuses to new gun control law

Reaction to New York's new gun control law from prosecutors is generally positive. For one central New York District attorney it closes some loopholes, but leaves others open.

One thing Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick would like to see in any gun control  legislation, something that prosecutors in New York state have been pushing for a decade -- a mandatory five year consecutive sentence for anyone who commits any type of crime with any type of handgun.

"That's the way you're going to ultimately stop it," said Fitzpatrick. "You can talk about mental health issues, large capacity magazines,  assault weapons, but ultimately, people who are so divorced from the norms  of society that they resort to using illegal weapons, they have to be separated from us as long as they possibly can."

One part of the legislation Fitzpatrick likes bumps up one gun crime from a misdemeanor to a felony.

"This elimination of what I consider a massive loophole, that if you have an illegal weapon in your home or place of business, it's a misdemeanor," said the district attorney. "And these guys, they treat a misdemeanors like you and I treat dinner at McDonalds.  It's just no big deal."

Fitzpatrick calls that section a huge improvement in the law. But he's worried about how well the limitation to a seven-shot clip will hold up in  court.

"I think that if someone were to challenge the in court on Second Amendment grounds, my legal opinion is that they would be successful," said Fitzpatrick. "A ten shot clip is not so out of the ordinary and is not so limited to military or illegal use, that it might not be supported by the second amendment."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed New York's new gun control law Tuesday, after it passed the state Senate and Assembly on the first two days of their session. The law is the first gun control measure passed in the U.S. since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and it gives New York state the toughest gun control law in the nation.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.