Cuomo rejoins gun debate

Oct 6, 2015

Governor Cuomo, who has been somewhat reticent about speaking out on the national stage, has lately been talking about the  issue of gun violence, saying it should be a key topic in Congress and in the 2016 campaigns.


Credit Jonny Moran

Cuomo called in to the New York City cable news channel New York One, to talk about a potential hurricane, which later veered away from the East Coast.  But quickly, the conversation turned to the recent mass shooting in Oregon and what to do about gun violence.

The governor urged Democrats in Congress to make the issue a top priority, and even adopt the GOP’s tactics in an attempt to get new gun control measures approved.

“You have a congressional discussion where they want to shut down the government if the Republicans don’t get a tax cut for the rich, I would love to see the Democrats stand up and say, ‘we are going to shut down the government or threaten to shut down the government if we don’t get real gun control legislation’,” said Cuomo.

“It should be that high a priority.”

Cuomo, who recently lost a member of his staff to gun violence, says the issue should be more prominent in the 2016 Presidential campaign. But Cuomo says most politicians are “afraid” of the topic. The governor told Wolf Blitzer on CNN that there was a “political cost” after he led New York’s efforts to adopt new gun control legislation shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre in late 2012.

"There is a segment of the population in New York in this country that is Second Amendment zealots, frankly, because there is no Second Amendment right for a mentally ill person to have a gun or a criminal to have a gun,” Cuomo said on CMM.

“I passed the law and I came down in popularity. You know what? From my point of view, fine. It’s called political capital and that's why I ran for office and I believe my law saves lives.”

Cuomo says New York’s gun control law, known as the SAFE Act, is working in New York, but without a national law, guns come in through other states.

The head of the State’s Republican Party, Ed Cox, does not buy the governor’s premise for speaking out on gun control right now. Cox says Cuomo is using the issue to find a place on the national arena. He points out the governor invited Vice President Joe Biden to the state twice in recent weeks.

“Everyone’s talking about Biden getting into the race, and with Clinton’s polls dropping, the governor of New York’s seems to naturally look to the national stage,” Cox said. “But you’d better be ready for it.”

He says economic stagnation and political troubles in the Middle East are more pressing issues.

Portions of New York’s’ gun control law has been walked back since its passage nearly three years. A federal court ruled that a limit of seven rounds of bullets could not be enforced, and the limit was upped to 10 rounds. A provision to require background checks for sellers of ammunition has been indefinitely post- poned. State police say they don’t have the technology to carry it out.  The majority the law, including a ban on the sale of assault weapons and a mandatory registry of existing assault weapons survived a court challenge and remains intact.

GOP leader Cox says there are other ways of trying to curb gun violence. For instance, he says the media’s recent practice of naming the Oregon shooter as little as possible, could help discourage future mass murderers eager for the attention.  

“This is something states need to deal with one by one and see what works and doesn’t work,” Cox said.

Meanwhile, frontrunner Democratic Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton has intensified her focus on anti gun violence, holding a rally in New Hampshire and promising to try to close background check loopholes and allow gun violence victims to sue arms manufacturers.  She says if she’s elected President, and Congress won’t respond, she’ll take administrative action instead.