When one thinks of New York politicians who are tough on gun control, Andrew Cuomo isn’t the first person who comes to mind, but if the governor gets his way, that may change soon. While New York already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, sources say that in his State of the State address on Wednesday, Cuomo will outline plans for even more restrictive measures. According to the Wall Street Journal, that might include expanding the types of guns included in the state’s assault-weapon ban, limiting the size of magazines, requiring renewals for gun licenses, flagging sales of large quantities of ammunition, closer examination of mental heath during background checks, and harsher sentences for gun crimes. Cuomo was quick to jump on the revived push for stricter gun laws in the days following the Newtown massacre, and now he hopes to be one of the first lawmakers in the country to pass new legislation.”You need federal action,” Cuomo said in a radio interview last month. “But I also think the states can make a difference and close the loop holes in their own right.” If New York passes the measures quickly it could set an example for the rest of the country, but not everyone is cooperating with Cuomo’s plan.
The Daily News reports that Cuomo wanted reach a deal with leaders in Albany before Wednesday’s address, but even with negotiations continuing late into the night on Tuesday, that seems unlikely. The talks have focused mainly on expanding the assault weapons ban in New York, which is one of only seven states with such a restriction. Cuomo says the current law has “more holes than Swiss cheese,” but Republicans in the state Senate have resisted his effort to crack down on assault weapons. When Senate Republicans unveiled a plan over the weekend to increase penalties for existing gun laws without altering the assault weapons ban, a spokesman for Cuomo said the plan “insults the common sense of New Yorkers.”
Aside from House Republicans, Cuomo will also have to take on gun-rights advocates such as the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, which supports the NRA’s claim that the solution to the problem of gun violence is “control of the mentally ill and placing armed guards in the schools.” The governor, who owns a shotgun, already alarmed fellow gun owners in the state when he said last month that confiscating assault weapons might be an option. Cuomo hasn’t mentioned confiscation again, and according to aides he’s dropped the idea. Still, the New York Times notes that he rattled gun advocates so much that they started a White House petition asking Obama to stop Cuomo from taking their gun as “we do not live in Nazi Germany.” With fewer than 8,000 signatures, the plea to the White House is less popular than some secessionist movements on the site. However, it’s still a sign that Cuomo’s effort to reform the state’s gun laws — and gain national recognition as a lawmaker who can cut through the usual gridlock — probably won’t be as simple as he’d hoped.