After shootings, Hochul looks at raising age for guns in NY

May 25, 2022 GMT

EAST GREENBUSH, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday proposed raising the age to 21 for purchasing the type of firearms used in recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Texas, and possibly for other weapons as well.

“I don’t want 18-year-olds to have guns, at least not in the state of New York,” Hochul said at a press briefing Wednesday. New York state law already sets the age limit for buying handguns at 21.

The Democrat said she wants to work with the state Legislature to raise the legal purchasing age for AR-15-style rifles.

Law enforcement officials say the 18-year-old gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school Tuesday had an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. So did the gunman who killed 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo earlier this month, officials there have said.

“How does an 18 year old purchase an AR-15 in the state of New York, the state of Texas?” Hochul asked. “That person is not old enough to buy a legal drink.”

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Hochul, a Buffalo native, appeared to get emotional at the briefing ahead of a meeting a multi-state task force on illegal guns.

“Just this morning, as we’re all reeling with the pain, I’m asking myself as governor: Am I supposed to just leave all the flags at half-mast? They’re still at half-mast from Buffalo,” said Hochul.

Only six states - California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont and Washington - require buyers to be at least 21 instead of 18 to purchase rifles or shotguns, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Those states have the same higher age limit for handguns, while a few other states have no age limits at all for any firearm, the gun-control advocacy group says.

New York City already, by local law, prohibits anyone under age 21 from possessing any firearm, with some exceptions for people engaged in military drills or competitions, or while under the supervision of a permitted gun owner.