Poll: Cuomo's approval slips on gun control

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks after signing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks after signing New York's Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act into law during a ceremony in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany. (Jan. 15, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's new gun-control law has cost him significant public support, especially among males, Republicans and independent voters, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Cuomo's approval ratings plunged 15 points in a survey taken by Quinnipiac University a week after New York enacted what the governor called the nation's toughest gun laws.

Quinnipiac found that Cuomo's approval rating dropped from 74 percent in December to 59 percent in just one month. Still, 59 percent is a level most governors would envy, said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"Is gun control a major element in his numbers dropping? Sure," Carroll said.

He added that gun control could be just one factor in Cuomo's dip. Most politicians saw their ratings rise after superstorm Sandy and could now expect a fall. Also, he said the governor "meandered across the liberal landscape" in his State of the State address in early January, advocating a number of initiatives that could put off Republicans and others.

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Cuomo's standing fell sharply with Republicans and independents. While 68 percent of Republicans supported him in December, just 44 percent do now. Support among independents dropped from 74 percent to 54 percent.

It even dipped among Democrats, falling from 82 percent to 74 percent. Voters in households with guns said they now disapprove of Cuomo, 50 percent to 40 percent.

Cuomo said he believes his fall is due solely to the gun bill.

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"I understand the sensitivity very, very well, and we all knew it going in," Cuomo said at a State Capitol news conference on budget issues. "There's no mystery to the fact that we've been dealing with this issue as a government and as a society for decades without action. Why? Because it's politically sensitive. But we are not here to duck the tough issues. We are here to take on the tough issues."The first-term governor made a major push to get state legislators to approve a comprehensive gun bill just one month after the Newtown, Conn., school shootings -- making New York the first state to pass legislation since the massacre.

The new law toughens restrictions on semiautomatic weapons and ammunition, creates a new gun registry, requires more background checks on buyers and strengthens penalties for illegal guns.

But the governor also rushed the gun bill through hours after it was printed, forgoing public hearings and the normal three-day waiting period for legislation. That sparked complaints from Republicans, some centering on technical flaws in the hurried bill.

Cuomo said gun owners who are concerned about Second Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution misunderstand the new law.

"The more they understand the law, and the more they hear about the law, the better they are going to feel, because it has nothing to do with the legitimate ownership of a gun," the governor said. "It has to do with keeping guns out of the hands of people who are mentally ill, keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and cracking down on illegal guns. That's what this is about."

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