Gun control tops Cuomo's agenda

Governor seeks to ban assault rifles, limit ammo magazines

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his third State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center today in Albany.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his third State of the State address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center today in Albany.

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for tougher state bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines as part of a progressive agenda in a sometimes fiery State of the State speech Wednesday.

“No one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer,” Cuomo said. “End the madness now!

“The tragic events of just the last few weeks in Newtown, Conn., and West Webster, N.Y., have indelibly taught us guns can cut down small children, firefighters and policemen in a moment,” Cuomo said.

The state already has among the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation, and the governor noted that New York passed the nation’s first handgun permit law, in 1911.

A deal is expected soon that could make New York one of the first states to pass gun control laws following the Dec. 14 shooting in which 20 first-graders and six educators were gunned down with a powerful weapon at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The shooter also killed his mother and himself.

New York’s effort was hastened further by the Christmas Eve killings of two firefighters in western New York by a man who set his neighborhood on fire, lay in wait with a high-powered rifle for responders, shot them and killed himself. Webster residents related to the firefighters were honored guests at the State of State address.

“Let’s lead the way once again in saving lives,” Cuomo said in an often rousing speech that some observers said better positioned the Democrat for a 2016 run for president.

Cuomo would also require follow-ups for owners of handgun licenses to make sure they are still qualified to possess a gun based on criminal and other records. He would increase sentences for gun crimes, including for the use of guns on school property and for gang activities.

Legislators were working Wednesday behind closed doors to reach agreement on the governor’s demand for tighter controls on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Republican Sen. Martin Golden agreed the closed-door talks have brought all sides to within 95 percent of a deal, which could be announced and acted on this week.

“New York leads the nation; it’s time New York lead the nation in this,” said Silver, whose priorities are bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

“Our goal is to try to get something done by the end of this week,” said Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos.

Cuomo started the last half of his first term striking a far more progressive tone than the fiscally conservative positions he used to fashion himself as a “new Democrat.” But he also achieved many of his fiscal goals, including a cap on property tax growth and curbed spending.

Cuomo’s agenda Wednesday included decriminalizing open possession of 15 grams of marijuana to a violation, fighting for women’s workplace and abortion rights and raising the minimum wage. He sounded more like his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, than like former President Ronald Reagan, as he did two years ago, said Lawrence Levy, political commentator and executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University.

“It was a long list of initiatives that have been part of a progressive, liberal agenda and which could be very expensive in the long run,” Levy said.

Cuomo will have to present his budget Jan. 22.

One of his bolder ideas would increase “learning time” by at least 25 percent, while proposing higher pay for better teachers and recruiting top performers to teaching. The state would pay the cost of longer days or longer academic years, with local school districts deciding whether to opt in. That innovative idea could finally overcome the hurdle of expanding school years beyond 180 days and typically six-hour days, which would require more pay for teachers and other school employees.

Brian D. Backstrom, president of the Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability, was critical of the governor’s proposal, saying it “does little more than nibble around the edge of real reform.”

In other priorities, Cuomo proposed raising the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.75 an hour. He called the current wage “unliveable.”

His response to Superstorm Sandy would include eliminating the Long Island Power Authority, which he said failed in crisis. It’s part of measures to better protect New York City and Long Island and would “harden” the energy network that failed for millions of New Yorkers for as many as 21 days after the Oct. 29 superstorm.

Other proposals include a statewide volunteer network of skilled New Yorkers, such as electricians and carpenters, to respond to storms and other disasters, Cuomo said at a conference center in Albany.

Cuomo also sought to drum up support for a November referendum that could legalize casinos beyond a half-dozen Indian casinos and more than two dozen electronic gambling games at racetracks.

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January 9, 2013
3:26 p.m.
pnotto says...

If this hypocrite is so concerned about saving the lives and protecting children then why doesn't he and his Liberal buds put a stop to abortions in the US. A few facts if you will; Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, there has been more than 45 million unborn children aborted in the US which sees 1.5 million of these procedures conducted and embraced with open arms by the Left annually. There have been more unborn children murdered at the hands of the Left through abortion than has seen any other American's killed in any war, auto accident, terrorist attacks, homicides at the hand of our fellow American's which includes the use of firearms, suicides, and other forms of mysterious deaths since this nation was founded more than 236 years ago. If Andrew is such a good Catholic, then why does he allow himself to be duped by an intellectually inferior argument and ideology? If you can answer this one please let me know because Andrew is claimed to be the most intelligent and compassionate Governor that NYS has ever had. Well my dear Liberal friends to you Andrew wears a large "S" in the middle of his chest which signifies to the Left that he is Superman, but to the people of NYS who see the Left for the Pius phonies that they all are, Andrew should be wearing the letters "SLH" which stands for Super Liberal Hypocrite. I think it fits him like a glove fits a hand.

January 9, 2013
3:29 p.m.
pnotto says...

If Andrew wants to spur economic growth how about lowering taxes and not driving businesses out of this state because of this anti-business mentality.

January 9, 2013
4:50 p.m.
birmy says...

Lengthening the school day assumes that time in school counts for more than time at home. Many people say that they learned more at home. To have spent more time in school would have crimped the learning of these people. I also wonder how longer days would work for young children. Days are plenty long enough for adults working. To expect kids to listen and behave for long periods of time, longer than what I studied at public schools seems wrong. I wonder if any United State study shows a gain in education by lengthening the day. It is not good enough to compare our school year with another country. We may have other differences that are not transferable to us from another country. The cost of lengthening the school day is also a concern. We cannot pay for the day already. What happens when it is stretched out? It will cost someone. If not the taxpayer, then the employee. Cuomo knows these issues, at least on costs and the reluctance of teachers to take on the burden of longer days without resources to pay for it. If put to a vote my belief is the taxpayers will say no.

I believe Cuomo has starved schools to the brink of financial insolvency and now will offer them some additional funds (that he previously took away) if they lengthen the day. To me it sounds like the funds would be used to pay for teachers who are getting laid off and there would be little money to compensate teachers who now have to pay extra for their kids in daycare and not take the 2nd job which most have at the beginning of their career etc. I'd like to learn more about the "schools opting in for the longer day". Does anyone believe teacher pay will rise 25% with a commensurate lengthening of the day of 25%? Someone has to pay for this...

January 9, 2013
10:50 p.m.
pnotto says...

My dear Zelasko: How are guns a health risk? Did you pull this out of your gluteus maximus like all anti-gun zealots do? Please enlighten me with your foolishness because you make no sense like the typical Liberal always does with any position they try and defend with no logic or substantive reasoning....

January 10, 2013
10:45 a.m.
wmarincic says...

birmy teachers need a 2nd job in the beginning of their career? Really? 30k a year for 9 months work for a starting salary with free retirement and almost free medical is not good enough?

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