NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Proposes 'Toughest Assault Weapon Ban in the Nation'

PHOTO: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his third State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on Jan. 9, 2013, in Albany, N.Y.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out a plan Wednesday to give New York some of the strictest gun control laws in the country.

In his annual State of the State address, Cuomo promised to "enact the toughest assault weapon ban in the nation, period," following the shooting deaths of 20 students and six adults at an elementary school in nearby Newtown, Conn., last month.

"I know that the issue of gun control is hard," Cuomo said during his address in Albany, N.Y. "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 the madness, now!"

Cuomo's voice rose as he urged the passing of "safe, reasonable gun control," asking New York to "set an example for the rest of the nation."

He then laid out a seven-point plan, calling it "a gun policy in this state that is reasonable, that is balanced, that is measured."

"Gun violence has been on a rampage," he said. "In one word it is just enough."

He added that he is a gun owner, himself, and his proposal "is not taking away people's guns."

In an address that was close to an-hour-and-a-half long, Cuomo called for requiring federal background checks of all gun sales, including private ones; the ban of high-capacity magazines; enacting tougher penalties for illegal gun use, guns on school grounds, and gun activity by gangs; keeping guns from people who are mentally ill; banning the direct Internet sale of ammunition purchases; one state check on all firearms purchases; and programs to cut gun violence in high-crime neighborhoods.

Cuomo, who is widely thought to have presidential ambitions, claimed New York once led the country in gun control when, in 1911, it passed "Sullivan's Law," which required a permit to possess a hand gun.

New York has an existing assault weapons ban, but many high-powered rifles that have a capacity greater than 10 rounds don't come under the ban because it exempts magazines manufactured before 1994. If a magazine is not stamped then it can't be banned.

Cuomo's new legislation would ban large-capacity magazines regardless of the date of manufacture.

One of the points of his plan that may get the most attention, especially in the wake of the Newtown and Aurora, Colo., mass shootings, is keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. The Democratic governor's plan would ensure 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.

According to the New York Daily News, Democratic New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters in Albany before Cuomo's speech that an agreement on tougher legislation between lawmakers and the governor was close, adding he might keep Assembly members in Albany to complete a deal.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who attended the address, has also been outspoken on the issue of gun control since the Sandy Hook school shooting.

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