Gun Groups Resist as NY Leads Assault Weapon Ban
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Jan. 9 State of the State speech adds to a growing chorus for tighter gun control laws that gun rights groups promise to resist.
As expected, Cuomo proposed a stricter assault weapon law and an outright ban on high-capacity magazines, saying he wanted to strengthen what are already some of the toughest gun laws in the country.
Shoot for the Stars
At the same event, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy urged the U.S. Congress to tighten federal gun control laws.
“More guns are not the answer,” said Malloy. “Freedom is not a handgun on the hip of every teacher, and security should not mean a guard posted outside every classroom,” said Malloy – a dig at the National Rifle Association’s recent proposal for how to deal with escalating gun violence in schools.
Much of the action in New York and Connecticut right now is centered around responding to two recent tragedies in which 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on Dec. 14, and 2 firefighters were killed by an arsonist/shooter in Webster, N.Y. on Dec. 24.
Assault Weapons Ban
Leading up to Cuomo’s speech, he had said in December that “confiscation could be an option” in the effort to keep assault weapons out of the state. But he did not say that in his speech.
Cuomo’s promises were ambitious. He said he wanted New York to enact “the toughest assault weapons ban in the nation, period,” according to CNN.
“Our state has had a ban on assault weapons since 2000, but it is so riddled with loopholes and so difficult to understand that it has become virtually unenforceable,” said Cuomo. He also said he wanted to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and require background checks in private sales.
Cuomo’s and Malloy’s voices add to a growing chorus for more gun regulation. Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly meeting this week with the NRA in a search for recommendations to President Barack Obama, who called for tighter federal gun control measures after Sandy Hook.
And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a major player on the national gun control stage, said, “I was particularly struck by his passionate leadership on gun violence,” in a statement after Cuomo’s remarks.
Even state Republicans seemed to be on board after the speech. “Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos — whose caucus has long stood in the way of tougher firearms restrictions — said he was hopeful an agreement on new gun laws could be presented to his members for a vote as soon as next week,” according to the Daily News.
Gun Groups Hold Out
Gun rights groups brought up the “confiscation” comment again anyway. “Cuomo’s loose talk about ‘confiscation’ will do wonders for the National Rifle Association’s fundraising campaign,” said Jonathan Tobin in an article for Commentary the day of Cuomo’s speech.
The NRA itself was quick to respond to Cuomo, with the group’s president reportedly saying he doubted other states would follow New York’s example. “New York already has very tough gun laws,” said David Keene. Cuomo’s gun control plan won’t “make any difference one way or the other in terms of violence of any kind in the state.”
Keene said he would agree with any of Cuomo’s proposals aimed at punishing “misuse [of] firearms in the commission of a felony,” but said that banning or even restricting guns by “perfectly honest, legitimate Americans” is “constitutionally suspect” and has never been shown to “have any impact whatever on violence or crime.”