ALBANY -- In the closing, tense days of the legislative session Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo accused each other of putting political motivations ahead of students’ lives over a gun-control issue.
Flanagan (R-East Northport) criticized Cuomo on Tuesday for his statewide campaign-like tour this week promote his “red flag” bill. The Republican said Cuomo was campaigning on the issue instead of negotiating with lawmakers.
Cuomo’s bill would empower teachers, school officials and police officers who suspect a student may be a threat to go to a judge who could block the student’s access to firearms.
“Never did he have a conversation about his newly-introduced ‘red flag’ legislation with” key senators, Flanagan said in a scathing public rebuke of his one-time ally. “That would have required him to listen, thoughtfully engage and perhaps even compromise with us to get a result.”
Flanagan said Cuomo is motivated by a need to combat a Democratic primary from the left by liberal activist Cynthia Nixon.
“He has put politics ahead of the public interest, and made it virtually impossible to achieve meaningful progress for the people of the state,” Flanagan said.
Hours earlier in a Westchester County event, Cuomo blamed the Senate’s Republican majority for blocking the legislation.
“We’ve been working very hard to get support in the state Senate in Albany,” Cuomo said. “We need one Republican vote. Just one Republican vote out of 31. One. And we can’t get one Republican vote. You know why? Because they’re putting their politics above the interests of the people of this state. Because they want to play their Republican conservative politics and that want to be in lockstep with Washington, rather than serve their constituents … they should be ashamed of themselves.”
Cuomo’s red-flag bill is an expansion of bill already in the Legislature. The Senate Judiciary Committee and the Democratic-led Assembly have already passed a red-flag bill that was limited to family members, household members, police officers and prosecutors. The bill, co-sponsored by state Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), would prevent a school-age child from purchasing or possessing a firearm under the “extreme risk protection orders” from judges.
Cuomo faces re-election and Senate Republicans will try to keep their slim majority in the legislative elections this fall.
The legislative session is scheduled to end June 20.