Cuomo to unveil gun-control proposals on Jan. 9

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference after a cabinet meeting in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany. (Dec. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday that he plans to unveil a "full package" of gun-control proposals in his State of the State address on Jan. 9, following the tragic school shootings in Newtown, Conn.

The Democrat said he has had discussions with the leaders of the Republican-led state Senate and Democrat-controlled Assembly, but not on specifics. In a radio interview, he said the focus of his proposals "is assault weapons . . . and the accessibility of these guns." He even floated the possibility of confiscating assault weapons that are currently legal.

"I want to know what the respective parties and houses feel," Cuomo said. "So that's the reason for the conversations. Obviously, it's a very hot topic."

There were talks about convening the Legislature before Jan. 1, but the governor downplayed the idea, saying: "I highly doubt it." However, some State Capitol sources said the discussions included possibly returning on Dec. 30 or New Year's Eve.

Gun control hasn't been a hot topic during Cuomo's first two years in office. In his 2010 campaign, Cuomo spoke of cracking down on illegal guns but not specifically on semiautomatic weapons. In contrast, Assembly Democrats have annually pushed a range of gun proposals -- including limiting high-capacity magazines and tightening the definition of assault weapon so gun manufacturers can't get around a state ban.

Cuomo acknowledged the state law has many loopholes, saying, "In this state, the assault weapon ban has more holes than Swiss cheese."

The governor, who owns a shotgun, added: "I don't think legitimate sportsmen are going to say I need an assault weapon to go hunting."

Democrats, led by Assemb. Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck), held a rally in Manhattan Thursday to push for tougher laws. Schimel, a longtime gun-control advocate, said there will a renewed, stronger push in the 2013 legislative session.

"The circumstances of last week's shooting has changed the collective conscience of everyone," the assemblywoman said. "After last week, my constituents are demanding a plan. They want real results."

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) indicated Republicans are open to discussions.

Spokesman Scott Reif said in an email the GOP supported "going after illegal guns, boosting mandatory minimum sentences, cracking down on criminals who use a gun in the commission of a crime, taking steps to enhance school safety, curbing gun-related gang violence, and keeping guns away from individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others."He added: "If there is a law that could prevent the tragedy that took place in Newtown, Conn., from happening here, we have a responsibility to pursue it."

Another key Republican told a Binghamton radio station Thursday that a number of topics are under discussion, including a statewide handgun registry.

"I don't want to get anybody excited, but I do believe something will get done," said Sen. Tom Libous (R-Binghamton), Skelos' deputy majority leader. "We're also waiting to see what kind of proposals the federal government makes because we do have tough gun laws in New York state."

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