NRA chief: Cuomo 'sacrificing' Constitution

March 1, 2013 at 3:30 AM
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ALBANY, N.Y., March 1 (UPI) -- The National Rifle Association chief told a gun-rights rally New York's governor was willing to "sacrifice" the Constitution "on the altar of his own ambition."

"New York has proven once again that it can top Washington in terms of the high-handedness of some of the people that hold its highest offices," NRA President David Keene told more than 5,000 opponents of the state's new gun-control law.

The law was pushed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and enacted Jan. 15, a month and a day after Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that killed 20 children and six adult staff members and wounded two others.

"I'm here to join you in protesting the fact that your governor is willing to sacrifice the Constitution, your rights as citizens and the prerogatives of his Legislature on the altar of his own ambition and on the ego of Michael Bloomberg of New York City," Keene said outside the state Capitol in Albany.

Bloomberg is a staunch advocate of gun control. New York City has even tighter restrictions than the state law.

The state NY SAFE Act broadens the definition of banned assault weapons and makes magazine ammunition storage and feeding devices containing more than seven bullets unlawful.

It also increases penalties for illegal gun possession, reduces public access to gun-permit information and lets mental health professionals report concerns about gun-owning patients who might be at risk of harming themselves or others.

The bill, officially known as the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, passed quickly last month through a "message of necessity" that waived a legally required three-day waiting period.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, voted for the bill and allowed it to go to the floor -- an action the Times Union of Albany said was key to letting it become law.

But rally organizers directed their anger at Cuomo.

"He's like a bad penny that keeps turning up," Keene said, reminding the crowd of Cuomo's job as housing and urban development secretary from 1997 to 2001 during the Clinton administration.

Some activists at the rally held placards calling for Cuomo's impeachment, while others held signs depicting Cuomo with a Hitler-like mustache, the Times Union said.

Cuomo, appearing at an event in Brooklyn, stood by the SAFE Act.

"I'm very proud that the state finally made progress with a comprehensive bill, but an intelligent bill," Cuomo told reporters. "I am a gun owner. This is not about taking anyone's gun. This is not about saying there's no such thing as the Second Amendment. And I think that's the fear: People think that government is going to come and literally take their guns away. That's not what it's about."

He called gun control "politically controversial" but "long overdue."

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