Cuomo Says Strengthen Federal Gun Laws, Close State Loopholes

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Governor Cuomo says federal gun laws need to be strengthened, and he says New York State’s assault weapons ban has loopholes that need to be closed.

In a news conference today, Cuomo said the state already has some of the toughest anti-gun laws in the nation, so the focus should really be on the strengthening of federal laws, where a ban on assault weapons was allowed to lapse in 2004. But he said the state’s assault weapons ban should be tightened, too. For instance, he said the semi automatic weapon used in the Newtown shootings is legal in New York.

“There is no doubt that our assault weapon law has significant flaws and significant loopholes,” said Cuomo.

He said the list of weapons and magazine cartridges banned under the law have not been updated since 1994.

Cuomo said he does not plan to add anti-gun measures to his litmus test of issues he wants the new Senate governing coalition to accomplish. The coalition is dominated by Republicans, who have traditionally not been as receptive to gun control. The governor did leave open the possibility that he could add some proposals to his State of the State message in January.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, agreed that the state’s assault weapons ban needs to be modernized to account for new types of weapons and ammunition.

Speaker Silver said he intends to push the new coalition of around 30 Republicans and the five Democrats in the Independent Democratic Conference to adopt bills like child safety locks for guns, and micro stamping of bullets to better investigate criminal shootings.

“I hate to use a tragedy in this fashion, but the reality is, we have to stop the proliferation of guns,” Silver said.

In statements after the Newtown shooting on Friday, IDC Leader Senator Jeff Klein said we must “continue to re-evaluate the place of guns in our state and our society”

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, who will jointly lead the new Senate governing coalition with Senator Klein, said he’s interested in pursuing measures to “curb illegal gun use by increasing penalties and enacting mandatory minimum sentences." Skelos said most gun crimes are committed by people illegally possessing guns.

Assemblyman Karim Camara, chair of the legislature’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus, said approving stricter gun laws in New York can set an example for the rest of the nation.

“We can pass laws that can both have an impact and symbolically send a message to the rest of the country,” said Camara.

Governor Cuomo said there other steps that need to be taken in response to the recent spate of mass shootings. He said the mental health system needs to be re examined to determine whether society is being adequately protected.  And he said society needs to address the current propensity for violence.