New York, Maryland Governors Hot on Gun Control at Political Risk

PHOTO: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin OMalley both want to enact gun legislation that would make each of their states the toughest in the country.
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The two governors leading the debate on stricter gun laws -- New York's Andrew Cuomo and Maryland's Martin O'Malley -- not only want to enact legislation that would make their respective states the toughest in the country, they are both widely believed to have presidential aspirations and could face each other in 2016 or a future Democratic primary.

Cuomo laid out his legislation in a State of the State address last week and it was passed by the state Senate Monday, while O'Malley described his plan Monday at a gun summit at Johns Hopkins University.

Both of their plans are bold and expansive.

Cuomo and New York lawmakers struck a deal late Monday to pass the first gun-control measures since the rampage killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead.

What are the two plans?

New York:

The agreement will tighten New York's loophole-riddled existing ban on so-called assault weapons and, among other things, would limit the capacity of magazines to seven bullets, down from 10. The legislation would also require background checks of ammunition buyers and gun sales, including private ones; tougher penalties for illegal gun use; a one-state check on all firearms purchases; and programs to cut gun violence in high-crime neighborhoods.

New York's plan will also aim to keep guns from people who are mentally ill. The legislation would empower judges to require people determined to be a threat to others get outpatient care. The plan also requires that when a mental health professional determines a gun owner is likely to hurt himself or others, the risk must be reported and the gun removed by law enforcement.

During a late night press conference Monday night, Cuomo said, "Enough people have lost their lives. Let's act."

Maryland:

Like Cuomo's plan in New York, O'Malley's proposal in Maryland is expected to pass the state's Democratic-controlled state legislature.

"There is a sickness in our country. That sickness is gun violence," O'Malley said Monday at the beginning of a two-day gun violence summit at Johns Hopkins University.

"Perhaps there is no way to completely prevent the next Newtown tragedy. But then again, perhaps there is. None of us can predict the future. ... And, yet, we know every life is valuable."

O'Malley added that his plan "isn't about ideology." Instead, it's "about the dignity of every individual life. The dignity of every one of those little kids."

The former Baltimore mayor's plan would ban military-style "assault weapons," which, he said, "have no place on the streets of Baltimore or in any other neighborhood in our state."

It would also limit the size of magazines and, among the tougher proposals, would include a requirement for most prospective gun buyers to provide fingerprints to state police, undergo a background check and complete a mandatory gun-safety course in order to obtain an owner's permit.

Buyers of shotguns and hunting rifles would be exempt from the measure. Currently, only Maryland residents seeking a concealed-carry permit must submit their fingerprints.

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