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Push for gun regulations brings NY’s fractured Democrats together

A man fires a handgun at Sandy Springs

A man fires a handgun at Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range in Sandy Springs, Ga., on Jan. 4, 2013. Credit: AP

New York’s Democratic legislators are so serious about passing new gun regulations, they’re even willing to work together if they have to.

A Tuesday news conference in Albany brought together a cast of characters rarely seen on the same stage. Mainline Senate Democrats, members of the breakaway Senate Independent Democratic Conference and even Assembly Democrats got together to push for big changes in New York’s gun regulations.

The IDC members usually work with Senate Republicans, using the power of their combined numbers to stymie other Democrats. But the push for changes at the federal level promised by President Donald Trump and other Republicans is quickly petering out as the president appears to be backing down, and that has these state-level Democrats ramping up.

The changes they will push for together are:

  • A law creating extreme-risk protection orders that would allow judges to bar people from possessing or purchasing guns if they are found to be likely to harm themselves or others.
  • More effective background checks, including a 10-day period during which purchases could be denied while background checks are run. The federal law, which allows only three days for the FBI to stop purchases, allowed a man in Charleston, South Carolina, to kill nine people with a gun he should have been barred from buying.
  • A provision to force the surrender of guns after practically all domestic-violence convictions.
  • A law requiring owners to lock up their guns when they are not in the owners’ possession.

In an election year, with the Senate majority in play, gun control is an issue on which the Democrats can likely make hay and work together. It’s an issue on which even the state’s Republican voters sometimes disagree with conservatives in the rest of the country, a point Sen. Todd Kaminsky stressed at the news conference. He pointed out what none of these bills are asking for: arming schoolteachers in the Empire State.

This post originally appeared in The Point, a daily look at New York State politics from the Newsday editorial board. Enter your email above to subscribe.