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Cuomo: Guns should be No. 1 issue in federal elections

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks at a news

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks at a news conference at his Manhattan office on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015. Credit: Charles Eckert

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday that gun laws should become "the No. 1" issue in next year's presidential and congressional elections and that Democrats should threaten to shut down the federal government if it isn't addressed.

"How many gruesome scenes do we need to see on TV to get political leaders to act? To have voters show some courage?" the Democrat said on NY1, the day after a gunman walked onto a community college campus in rural Oregon and killed at least nine people. The gunman died in a shootout with police.

Cuomo said gun violence is getting worse, yet nothing happens on the federal level to stop it. "We have a presidential election, a congressional election. This should be the No. 1 or 2 issue," he said. As for those who say Congress is too divided to pass laws, the governor said: "If they say nothing can be done, then they are on a different planet as far as I'm concerned and let them tell the voters that."

He added: "I would like to see Hillary and . . . whoever else is in the race on both sides talk about this issue of guns . . . rather than the political blather that is now going on and let's put some real issues on the agenda and let's put at the top: What are you going to do about guns?"

Cuomo said congressional Democrats should follow the playbook of Republicans, who have threatened a government shutdown over taxes and spending. "I'd love to see the Democrats stand up and say we'll shut down the government, or threaten to shut down the government, if we don't get real gun-control legislation," Cuomo said.

Cuomo pushed through tighter state controls on assault weapons after the 2012 mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., school. But he said federal laws are needed to stop the free flow of weapons.

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