Governor Andrew Cuomo is in talks with legislative leaders on a gun control package that he could introduce as part of his State of the State message on January 9.
The governor says the state’s gun control laws, among the strictest in the nation, could still use some further revisions. He’s trying to find common ground with legislative leaders, in order to present a package of bills early next month that could be passed by the legislature.
New York State has an assault weapons ban, but it has not been updated since 1994 to prohibit new types of semi automatic weapons that have come on the market. One of the weapons used in the Newtown, Connecticut shootings is currently legal in New York. The list of banned cartridges that can hold multiple bullets has also not been revised in 18 years. A report in the Daily News Thursday says the governor wants to expand the assault weapons ban to include all fire arms with clips that hold more than seven bullets.
Cuomo says changes need to be made.
“Our assault weapon law has significant flaws and significant loopholes,” said Cuomo.
There had been talk around the Capitol of holding a special session on gun control measures before December 31, but Cuomo says he’s focusing instead on honing a package of bills that he can introduce in his State of the State message in early January.
Spokesmen for the Senate leadership coalition and Majority Party Democrats in the Assembly say there are no plans right now to hold a session before the New Year.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wants to move quickly in January, though, and says he intends to re-introduce a lengthy list of gun control measures as soon as the legislature reconvenes. Silver says he too wants to tighten the assault weapons ban, as well as take other steps.
“Child safety locks, and even micro stamping bullets, so we can better investigate when there is a shooting,” Silver said.
Proponents of micro stamping of bullets say it would help the police find criminals who use guns to commit crimes.
Newly elected Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins says Democrats in the Senate are ready to act, saying communities in New York have had to “endure the horror of gun violence for far too long.”
The mainstream Democrats are not in charge of the Senate, however. The Senate will be run next year by a coalition government including all of the chamber’s Republicans, plus six Democrats. Five of the Democrats are part of the break away Independent Democratic Conference.
IDC leader Senator Jeff Klein says he “wholeheartedly” supports swift action on gun measures. He says at the top of the list is “immediate” closure of what he calls “inexplicable loopholes” that he says puts dangerous weapons in the hands of those who should never be allowed near a gun.
Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos has said he prefers to focus on cracking down on illegal guns, which he says cause even more deaths each year.
Perhaps anticipating that a Senate dominated by the GOP might have a harder time politically outlawing some types of guns, Cuomo has said in recent days that any step that can be taken is better than doing nothing in the wake of the December 14 school massacre.
“You can’t argue constantly for the perfect, and make the perfect the enemy of the good,” Cuomo said. “Make progress.”
Talks between the governor and legislature are expected to continue.