New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday outlined a seven-step proposal to curb gun violence featuring what he said he hopes will produce the “toughest assault weapons ban in the nation.”Cuomo focused part of what was more than an hour long State of the State address to combating gun violence in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and seven others dead.
“I know that the issue of gun control is hard,” Cuomo said in a passionate point of his speech. “I know it’s political. I know it’s controversial. I say to you, forget the extremists! It’s simple — no one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer, and too many innocent people have died already! End this madness — now!
“Pass safe, reasonable gun control in the State of New York. Make this state safer. Save lives. Set an example for the rest of the nation. Let them look at New York and say this is what you can do. This is what you should do!”
Cuomo’s words were praised by, among others, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who called it “passionate leadership on gun violence.” And it has already fanned the flames on speculation for a 2016 presidential run — the cover of the New York Daily News on Thursday calls Cuomo “America’s Sheriff.”
Some liberals who had been critical of Cuomo leading up to and after the election in November, though, wondered whether he would be able to enact that agenda with the Republican majority they say he helped create in November.
Liberals were irked that Cuomo didn’t do enough to elect Democrats to the New York state Senate in November, as he said he didn’t care which party was in power.
Democrats won a numerical majority, but five Democrats broke from the party’s caucus to form the Independent Democratic Caucus, which will share governing powers with Republicans.
“I think the big if is whether he can get any of it through the GOP majority he not [so] subtly encouraged in the Senate,” said Phillip Anderson, a campaign content and strategy consultant at at Corporate Action Network, a New York-based organisation that advocates for progressive causes.
“I support what he’s trying to do. Banning military style weapons and high capacity magazines seem to me to be very common sense moves. I say this as someone who grew up in the south, who grew up around guns, hunters and hunting. There’s just no good reason for civilians to possess any of these.”
Cuomo’s proposal consists of seven things he’d like to see implemented or changed with New York’s gun laws:
- The assault weapons ban
- Closing the private-sale loophole by requiring background checks
- Banning high-capacity magazines
- “Tougher penalties” for illegal gun use, guns in school grounds and violent gangs
- Banning guns from the mentally ill
- Banning the Internet sale of ammunition in New York
- Creating a state check on all ammunition purchases
Anderson applauded Cuomo’s plan, but he said that liberals have never had a problem with Cuomo on issues of gun control — it’s his positions on labour issues that irk them. Moreover, he may have compounded the chance to get his own proposals passed without a Democratic majority in the state Senate.
“Yay! Do something about gun safety. Please,” Anderson said in an email. “Also, quit being a Third Way/DLC retread.”
At the end of his speech Wednesday, Cuomo walked off the stage to enormous applause from the lawmakers in attendance.
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