N.Y. Politicos Push Gillibrand on Guns

By Teddy Davis

Jan 23, 2009 6:19pm

ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Ferdous Al-Faruque Report:

Two of the biggest names in New York politics are urging Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Hillary Clinton’s replacement to the United States Senate, to alter her views on gun control now that she will be representing all of New York state.

During her short tenure in the House representing an upstate district, Gillibrand, who was first elected in 2006, has earned her an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association.

"I am confident that as Kirsten comes to see the cities of the state and sees the problem of gun violence there, her views will evolve to reflect the views of the whole state," said Schumer

Schumer, the author of the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban, made his remarks in Albany, N.Y., at the same event where Democratic Gov. David Paterson announced that Gillibrand was his choice to replace Clinton now that she has vacated her Senate seat to become secretary of state.

Schumer was not alone in nudging Gillibrand to change her gun stance.

New York Mike Bloomberg, the co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, issued a statement saying that he, too, was concerned about Gillibrand’s position on guns.

"I have a strong disagreement with one area of her record as a member of Congress: illegal guns," said Bloomberg. "She has actively opposed the efforts of New York City, and cities around the state and nation, to enact commonsense measures that keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals. For instance, she has voted to keep critical data needed to track illegal gun traffickers from law enforcement, has voted to tie the hands of the ATF, and has also voted to protect dealers who sell guns illegally."

“Now, as she begins representing the whole state," he continued, "I look forward to working with her to help her gain a broader understanding of the problems affecting New York City so she can be an effective advocate for all New Yorkers.”

Schumer sought to inoculate Gillibrand against a potential flip-flopper charge by saying that he changed his views on agriculture subsidies when he went from being a Brooklyn congressman to a New York senator.

"When I was congressman from Brooklyn, I opposed all agriculture subsidies," said Schumer. "As senator, I came to know and sympathize with the struggles of upstate New York farmers and have become a strong advocate for them. They call me the Brooklyn farmer. Now, I know the same kind of thing will happen with Kirsten."

Gillibrand’s conservative gun stance could result in a Democratic primary challenge to her in 2010 from Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., whose husband was killed by a gunman on the Long Island Railroad.

Gillibrand spokeswoman Rachel McEneny explained the congresswoman’s record by saying that she comes from a family of hunters and that she is a defender of hunters’ rights.

At the same time, McEneny said that Gillibrand is "not a card-carrying member of the NRA" and that the concerns raised by Schumer and Bloomberg are "something to talk about."

The N.R.A., which backed Gillibrand’s re-election to the House in 2008, is reserving judgment on Paterson’s Senate pick.

"We don’t have anything in common with either Mike Bloomberg or Chuck Schumer," said N.R.A. spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. As for whether it can back Gillibrand for Senate in 2010, he said, "We can’t answer that question until she answers that question."

ABC News’ David Chalian and Lindsey Ellerson
contributed to this report.

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