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Cuomo, legislature to consider more gun limits

Action is promised in the wake of a mass shooting at a California nightclub.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, shown in Brentwood on Oct.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, shown in Brentwood on Oct. 29, said the State Legislature will consider more gun control measures following a mass shooting in California. Photo Credit: James Carbone

ALBANY — One of the first acts of the new all-Democratic majority legislature will be to consider more gun control measures, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Senate Democrats said Thursday.

“We already have the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, and in the upcoming legislative session we will take additional steps to make our laws even stronger to keep our communities safe,” Cuomo said in a statement in reaction to the mass shooting at a California nightclub Wednesday night that left 13 dead.

Democrats, who won a solid majority in New York’s Senate  in Tuesday’s elections, also promised action. They have a long list of gun control bills introduced earlier this year, but which had been blocked by the then-Republican majority.

The measures include creating “extreme risk protection orders” that could confiscate guns from people deemed by a judge to be a threat, a 10-day waiting period to buy a firearm, authority for victims and their families to sue gun manufacturers that “negligently market firearms to irresponsible buyers;” and creating a crime of failure to “securely store a weapon to prevent injury and death due to use or handling unintended by the person authorized to possess the weapon.”

“These acts of senseless violence are occurring with frightening regularity, and yet Washington has resigned itself to doing nothing,” Cuomo said. “Thoughts and prayers will not prevent another shooting — but action can. Two days ago, Americans made clear that they want a return to reasonable politics. We are resolved to do all we can to uphold that vision, and to make our streets safe as well.”

Cuomo also wants to raise the age of purchasing a firearm to 21 years old from 18. He also wants to extend the waiting period to purchase a firearm to 10 days, but only if a concern or question is raised in the immediate federal background check.

Senate Democrats agree with the Democrat-led Assembly on most of the measures. That could mean quick passage as early as January.

“Twelve lives were brutally cut short because of a madman with a gun,” said Senate Democrat leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers). “Thoughts and prayers will not address the scourge of gun violence; we must take action and show leadership. The Senate Democrats have pushed for common-sense gun safety legislation and we will ensure that New Yorkers are protected from dangerous individuals and weapons of war.”

“Passing common-sense gun safety laws, like the red flag protection bill, which would take guns out of the hands of dangerous people, must be a top priority in January,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “It’s time to get it done.”

“There is certainly a political dimension to offering up these bills now — after the election, and just after the shooting in California,” said Robert J. Spitzer, a political science professor at SUNY Cortland who studies gun laws nationwide. “But the proposals have merit based on research or experience in other states."

He noted extreme risk protection orders have passed in 10 states “and most experts agree that this is a fairly effective way to stop imminent violence.” He also said a 10-day waiting period,  as opposed to the current three-day wait, has disclosed factors that would disqualify the applicant.

Spitzer said the Democrats’ other proposals have proved effective in other states or in research: Banning “bump stocks” that allow rifles to fire more rapidly, banning the sale of firearms to anyone convicted of a hate crime, and banning firearms “that cannot be detected by X-ray, magnetometer or metal detector and make their sale, transport, possession or manufacture.”

The Assembly’s Democratic majority and the Senate’s Republican conference didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The state Rifle and Pistol Association, the lobbyist in New York for the National Rifle Association, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state’s SAFE Act, which banned assault weapons, among many gun control measures, was adopted in January 2013, within weeks of the fatal mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

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