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Gun control talks heat up
A key bloc of Senate Democrats emerged from a huddle Friday with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo saying the governor wants to pass a package of gun-control legislation as soon as possible — sometime this month.
During the 90-minute meeting, the governor and the five-member Independent Democratic Conference pored over a “comprehensive” gun proposal “step by step,” said Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), head of the Democratic splinter group that has joined with 30 Republicans to control the Senate.
Klein declined to spell out many specifics but said his group and Cuomo agree on the principles of the gun proposals — and the urgency.
“We’re on the same page that we have to do everything possible to ban assault weapons in New York, high capacity magazines, make sure that people with serious mental health issues don’t possess guns and, I think, we have to do it as soon as possible,” Klein said. “We need to do it in January.”
The meeting, which was disclosed to the media, seemed to be intended to up the pressure on Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) and Senate Republicans to act on guns. Klein said he hasn’t discussed the proposals directly with Skelos, his power-sharing partner.
“Discussions have been ongoing,” said Scott Reif, a Skelos’ spokesman. He said the Republicans have advocated a “comprehensive approach” that also addresses illegal guns, gang-related crimes and keeping guns away from “individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others.”
Cuomo officials didn’t immediately comment.
The governor has pushed lawmakers to agree to gun-law changes in advance of his State of the State address, slated for Wednesday. But negotiations haven’t moved that quickly, frustrating the administration. Lawmakers aren’t slated to return to the Capitol until Wednesday.
Complicating matters, the Senate has yet to formally enact its governing rules for the 2013 session, which would codify the Skelos-Klein power sharing arrangement. That given, Klein said it’s likely the Senate won’t hold its first working day till Jan. 14.