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Bloomberg and Cuomo on gun laws, after Newtown

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday said gun control was “fundamentally a federal matter,” though he added he would seek to tighten what he called “significant loopholes” in the state laws outlawing assault weapons.

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a spirited call to demand Congress and President Barack Obama take action on guns, saying “gun violence is a national epidemic.”

Cuomo made his remarks in the wake of the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., that left 27 dead, including 20 children – although he’s been promising to address gun issues since the shootings in a Colorado movie theater last summer. He hasn’t offered specific ideas.

“States can help … but the most efficient, effective vehicle is a federal law,” the Democrat said. “New York has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. … But in some ways, it's to no avail because someone can buy a gun somewhere else" and transport it to New York.

Guns haven’t been a major issue in Cuomo’s first two years in office. The one controversy that arose was when the governor – backed by Republicans – successfully ended New York’s participation in a national ballistics database, citing cost and ineffectiveness.

Cuomo is set to unveil his 2013 agenda when he delivers his State of the State address.

“There's no doubt that our assault weapon law has significant flaws, significant loopholes,” the governor said.

He said gun violence was a multi-pronged problem that involved a “culture of violence.”
But Bloomberg said discussions of mental health and school programs were “just ways to avoid the issue.”

“Gun violence is a national epidemic . . . that demands more than words,” the mayor said at a Manhattan news conference. “I think it should be illegal to have weapons whose only purpose is to kill large numbers of people. I think it should be illegal to sell bullets designed to pierce armored vests. Those are designed to kill police — that’s all they are designed for.”

Bloomberg, a longtime gun control advocate, added: “Perhaps this slaughter of innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School will at long last be enough” to take action.

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