New York became the first state to take legislative action in response to last month’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School when it enacted reforms to its gun laws this week. Among the provisions of the new law are tighter restrictions on “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines.”
However, the law addresses not only firearms themselves, but also the people that use them. For instance, it will require background checks for buyers of ammunition. Additionally, in one of its more controversial parts, the new law requires mental health providers to report patients to criminal justice authorities when the mental health professionals believe that the patients are likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to themselves or others. The authorities can then determine whether or not to revoke the patient’s gun license.
New York’s new law is designed to prevent the horrible results of gun violence, but it also highlights the difficulty in identifying and defining its underlying causes. Recognizing that America is currently struggling to find an answer to an increase in gun violence, President Obama revealed this week his strategies for reducing gun violence and announced that he would immediately sign twenty-three executive orders concerning firearms, including a directive to the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
There are numerous opinions as to the causes of gun violence. Continue reading