By Rich Bockmann
In his State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo laid out a seven-point plan to address “the plague and scourge of gun violence” during the upcoming legislative session.
In the days leading up to the speech, it was expected the governor would lay out an agenda to strengthen and expand the state’s already tough laws, and Cuomo gave a special nod to the importance of firearms reform before beginning his speech.
Cuomo honored the families of Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka, the two West Webster, N.Y., firefighters who were killed in an ambush Christmas Eve, and Rochester’s chief of police called on the state to lead the nation in protecting its citizens and first responders from gun violence.
But Cuomo spoke for more than an hour — starting with his jobs and economic development initiatives and laying out ideas on education, energy and upstate tourism — before getting into the meat of his gun-control proposals.
“In the area of public safety, gun violence has been on a rampage as we know firsthand and we know painfully,” he said matter-of-factly after speaking animatedly about women’s rights. “In one word, it’s just enough. It has been enough. We need a gun policy in this state that is reasonable, that is balanced, that is measured.”
The governor, who owns a Remington shotgun himself and said the idea was not to take away hunters’ guns, laid out seven initiatives he would like to see the state Legislature tackle this year.
They include enacting the nation’s toughest assault weapons ban, closing the gun show loophole that allows private transactions without a background check and banning high capacity magazines.
“It’s simple: No one hunts with an assault rifle,” he said toward the end of his 90-minute speech. “No one needs 10 bullets to hunt a deer.”
Cuomo also called for tougher penalties for illegal gun possession charges to make it harder for the mentally ill to acquire firearms, to ban direct ammunition sales over the Internet and to require a background check for large ammunition purchases.
“The agenda we lay out today is clearly the most ambitious agenda of the three I have outlined in the State of the States,” Cuomo said. “We need to do everything we’ve been doing. We also need to address the plague and scourge of gun violence.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.