ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have a tentative deal to enact the nation’s first gun control measure following last month’s Connecticut school shooting, according to people familiar with the negotiations, further tightening gun laws in a state that already has among the nation’s strictest.
The tentative agreement would further restrict New York’s ban on assault weapons and limit the size of magazines to seven bullets, rather than the current 10. Other elements, pushed by Republicans, would refine a mental health law that allows for civil confinement of people determined to be a threat to others.
Senate Republicans also have included a further crackdown on illegal gun trafficking into New York, the people said. Most New York City gun crimes involve weapons illegally brought into the state, state and city officials say.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the proposal had not been discussed among rank and file legislators. They say the tentative deal was struck over the weekend and will be debated behind closed doors Monday in the Senate and Assembly.
If the deal survives as expected, a bill could be presented this week, but it faces several challenges.
It will be the first test of the new coalition in control of the state Senate, which has long been run by Republicans opposed to gun control measures. The Senate is now led by a coalition of Republicans and five breakaway Democrats, an arrangement expected to result in more progressive legislation.
Former Republican Sen. Michael Balboni said that for legislators from the more conservative upstate region of New York, gun control “has the intensity of the gay marriage issue.” In 2011, three of four Republicans who crossed the aisle to vote for same-sex marriage ended up losing their jobs because of their votes.
“It was always startling to me the vast cultural divide between New York City metropolitan view on gun control and most of the upstate communities,” said Balboni, who represented part of Long Island for 10 years and was a Senate leader.
“Gun advocates see these incidents as almost cyclical and that in the wake of a national shooting incident, they have seen repeated calls for control,” he said Monday. “They view it as a slippery slope to the banning and confiscation of weapons. Emotions run high and there will be tremendous pressure on all upstate legislators, Republicans and Democrats, to keep their base.”
Also a concern is a major gun manufacturer in upstate New York.
Remington Arms Co. makes the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle that was used in the Connecticut shootings and again on Christmas Eve in Webster, N.Y., when two firefighters were slain responding to a fire. The two-century-old Remington factory in Ilion in central New York employs 1,000 workers in a Republican Senate district.
Republican Assemblyman Marc Butler warned last week that a more restrictive assault weapon ban could cost the factory 300 jobs.