The legislation was not a complete surprise to New York's estimated 4.75 million gun owners. Cuomo had promised tighter gun laws following the December slayings of 20 children and six educators at a Connecticut elementary school. Authorities said the gunman used a military-style semiautomatic rifle and 30-round magazines.
Cuomo said Thursday that gun control is a 30-year-old debate, and many bills were introduced previously. Legislators haven't wanted to offend some people on an issue they feel passionate about, and the Newtown, Conn., shootings were a catalyst.
"Reforms often come from incidents that occur. That's in history," Cuomo said. "The public is living their lives, then there's an incident. They focus. They have an opinion, and the politicians often follow the people."
The legislation passed New York's Senate 43-18, with opposition votes coming from Republicans across the upstate region. The bill passed the heavily Democratic Assembly 104-43.
Lawmakers from New York City, which has even tighter gun restrictions, and from its Long Island suburbs nearly all voted for it, including 10 Republican senators who joined 32 Democrats to pass the bill. An 11th Republican, Mark Grisanti from Buffalo, also voted for it.
Freshman Assemblyman Kieran Lalor, a Hudson Valley Republican who voted against the bill, said his office heard from maybe 300 constituents within a day after the law was signed, with only two in favor.
"I'm surprised that it is so overwhelmingly opposed," said Lalor, an attorney and ex-Marine, acknowledging his largely suburban and rural district is probably politically center-right.
He said he barely had time to read the 40-page legislation twice before voting, adding there was no time to absorb all its provisions and that some, like registering 1 million formerly legal guns, may prove unworkable.
The NRA warned it would "speak frankly" about the legislators who voted for the bill. King said Thursday that they'll be looking at legislators' votes as they prepare for the 2014 state elections, but it's too early to make a decision about that and there's still a long legislative session to go.