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"I think itís more symbolic than anything. Iím not really convinced that anything will change."

New Yorkers on new gun law: hopeful, skeptical

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President Barack Obama is expected to unveil new measures later today designed to curb gun violence.

Yesterday in New York, the state legislature voted to approve new gun control laws that are the toughest in the nation.

In the weeks since the deadly shooting in Newtown, Conn., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed lawmakers to act quickly - to ban the sale of assault rifles, as well as clips that carry more than seven rounds of ammunition.

Speaking yesterday, Cuomo called gun violence "a scourge" but reactions to the measure across New York state were mixed.

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Reported by

Brian Mann
Adirondack Bureau Chief

While New York's state Assembly was still debating the gun control measure, Stetsen Hundgen said he wasn't sure exactly what the new law restricts or what it allows – but he said he was skeptical.

"I think it's more symbolic than anything. I'm not really convinced that anything will change."

I heard this a lot through the day. People I talked to said the mass shootings in Newtown and other places around the country were disturbing, but some were also concerned that this law was pushed through fast – with little time for public review.

When I told Casey Weeks, an 18 year old student from Greenville, NY, that the law was a done deal, he shook his head and said it would put restrictions on all the wrong people.

"I think it's a little ridiculous. I mean, honestly these criminals that get hold of these guns get ahold of them illegally anyway. So doesn't really matter if they pass laws like that."

Weeks and Hundgen both said they think the new rules violate New Yorker's right to bear arms, and weaken the 2nd Amendment.

This law doesn't ban all guns, but it makes it illegal to buy or sell assault rifles and big military-style clips.

It requires mental health professionals in New York to notify authorities if there's risk that a patient might use a firearm in a crime.

The penalties for gun crimes will also increase and gun owners are now required to notify authorities if their pistols or rifles are stolen.

Tom Green from Latham, NY, was thrilled by those changes. He said he doesn't think they step on anyone's civil liberties.

"The availability of automatic weapons and large capacity magazines, I find to be unnecessary for any useful sport shooting or self-protection. It seems to me they're just tools for destruction."

I met Green at a rest stop on the New York Thruway about the time that Governor Cuomo was signing the new law.

A few minutes later, Elizabeth Sooter, a former college professor from Long Island, came over. She said there was a report on the TV inside about another shooting.

"I don't know if you just heard, but I just saw that there's another shooting at a college in St. Louis. I mean – it's dangerous to be a teacher. You risk your life. Do we need that many guns?"

News stories like that one, and the shooting in Newtown, have clearly reshaped the debate here in New York. Some people yesterday said efforts to curb gun violence were long overdue.

Jamie Johns lives in Brownsville, a high crime neighborhood in New York City that's been plagued by shootings for years.

"Out here in East New York babies are getting shot every other week, every day and nothing had took place, nobody came to the rescue. It's bad that it took that shooting [in Newtown] for the government to even think about doing something."

Johns was eating at the East Market Diner. George Papadopolous runs the place. He said yesterday that he agrees gun violence has to be reduced somehow.

"It's just ridiculous. This is New York City, 2013. Not the Wild West 1879. You know what I mean?"

It's unclear whether other states will follow New York's lead. New gun control measures area being debated from Connecticut to California.

Full text of the NYSAFE gun control act

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