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Cuomo says N.Y. to lead on gun control

Jan. 9, 2013 at 6:59 PM   |   Comments

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ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 9 (UPI) -- New York Gov. Andrew said Wednesday the state must lead the nation in the effort to curb gun violence and outlined the package of legislation he will seek.

A statement issued by Cuomo's office on the day he delivered his annual State of the State address said while New York is on the forefront in public safety laws, with "the senseless massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and our state still mourning the loss of first responders in Webster's shooting tragedy, New York must say enough is enough to gun violence."

"There have been far too many lives claimed as a result of gun violence in recent years," the statement issued by Cuomo's office said. "New York once led the way: 'Sullivan's Law' of 1911 was the nation's first gun control law -- a model law that required a permit for possession of a hand gun. The time has come to make New York safer and once again lead the way for other states to follow."

Cuomo called on the Legislature to "pass the toughest assault weapons ban in the country."

"New York's ban on assault weapons is so riddled with loopholes and so difficult to understand that it has become virtually unenforceable," the statement said.

The governor proposes tightening the state's assault weapons ban and eliminating large-capacity magazines regardless of date of manufacture.

Cuomo also proposes requiring criminal and mental health background checks for private gun sales. The state already requires them for weapons bought from dealers or at gun shows.

His package includes stiffer penalties for those who illegally buy guns, for those who use guns on school property, and for those who engage in violent and serious drug-related gang activity.

Cuomo announced he will propose measures to ensure when a mental health professional determines a firearm owner is likely to do something resulting in serious harm to self or others, that risk may be reported and the gun taken away by law enforcement authorities.

Cuomo said he will propose a single statewide standard to ensure that appropriate checks.

WCBS-TV reported earlier Cuomo, a Democrat, was negotiating the legislative package with lawmakers of both parties.

Cuomo, a shotgun owner, has long spoken in favor of tougher gun control but only began pressing the point after the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown that killed 20 children and six adult staff members and wounded two others.

He said he wanted to come up with a package that could be used as a model in other statehouses, The New York Times said.

"I think what the nation is saying now after Connecticut, what people in New York are saying, is, 'Do something please,'" Cuomo told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Dec. 18.

"They look to government to respond to a crisis," he said. "They look to government to respond with leadership. And I think what they're saying is put the politics aside and stop the argument, stop the debate, and pass a bill that makes progress even if it's not a perfect bill."

New York's existing assault-weapons ban was approved in the months after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado that left 12 students and a teacher dead. The teenage gunmen -- two high school seniors -- injured 21 other students before committing suicide.

In 2000 New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, pushed through the Legislature new gun laws that included a measure to outlaw assault weapons.

But many high-powered rifles now available are exempt from the ban. Advocacy groups blame manufacturers for altering their products to get around the law, the Times said.

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