New York state lawmakers are set to approve a package of gun-control bills Thursday, including measures that would require a license to purchase a semi-automatic rifle, ban the purchase or sale of body armor in most cases and eventually require handguns to come equipped with microstamping technology.

The state Legislature’s action comes nine days after the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and nearly three weeks after a mass shooting in Buffalo left 10 people dead in a supermarket — the area was specifically targeted by an 18-year-old white shooter because it was in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

The 10 bills mark the state’s most sweeping action on gun control since the passage of the SAFE Act in 2013, which bolstered New York’s ban on assault weapons and came in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.

Gov. Kathy Hochul, who has pushed for some of the measures in recent weeks, has already committed to signing the bills into law. The Democrat-led state Senate and Assembly are expected to approve them before the annual legislative session ends Thursday or early Friday.

"Within the last month, two horrific mass shootings in Buffalo and in Texas have rattled this nation to our core and shed a new light on the urgent need for action to prevent future tragedies," Hochul said in a statement this week. "New York already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country but clearly we need to make them even stronger.”

Among other measures, the gun control package would:

  • Raise the minimum age for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21 by requiring a license for purchase, similar to what is already required for a handgun. It would apply to sales or transfers made 90 days after the bill is signed into law. (New York City already requires a permit to purchase a long gun, but the new bill would apply statewide.)
  • Give the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) 180 days to determine whether microstamping — a still-emerging technology that engraves a unique code into the bullet casing when it’s fired from a gun — is technologically viable. If it is, the state would gradually implement a requirement that handguns sold in New York be equipped with the technology.
  • Make it a crime to purchase a “body vest” – defined as bullet-resistant soft body armor – with exceptions given to a police officer, peace officer, member of the military or other eligible worker, as defined by the state. It would also be a crime to sell a body vest to any non-eligible profession. A first offense would be a misdemeanor; each subsequent offense would be a felony.
  • Expand the list of people who can raise a complaint under the state’s Red Flag Law, which allows a judge to seize firearms from a person who is a threat to themselves or others. Under the bill, the list would be updated to include health care workers who examined the person in question in the last six months.

The Assembly approved the microstamping measure Wednesday afternoon, in a 98-52 vote that fell largely along party lines. The Senate is scheduled to take it up Thursday.

The vote comes 12 years after the state Senate effectively rejected a similar measure, despite a major lobbying push by then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Democrats touted the measure as a tool that will help law enforcement solve crimes by being able to determine the weapon a bullet was fired from, even if the gun itself wasn’t recovered.

Republicans painted the technology as unproven. California approved a microstamping law in 2007, but has battled with gun manufacturers who have declined to sell new handgun models in the state as a way to avoid installing microstamping capabilities.

“Unfortunately this technology as a tool in criminal justice matters is largely unachievable,” said Republican Assemblymember Robert Smullen of Fulton County, west of Albany. “For 15 years, California has been unable to make a go of it. And it will just increase costs for lawful gun owners.”

Under New York’s law, the microstamping mandate would take place four years after the criminal justice division certifies the technology. It would apply to handguns sold after that date.

“We have a responsibility to take action,” said Manhattan Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, a Democrat sponsoring the bill. “We need to tighten our laws and make sure law enforcement has every tool available to them to make our streets safe.”