N.Y. Gov. Cuomo pushes an assault weapons ban
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that New York needs an assault weapons ban, not just the increased penalties for illegal gun possession that Republicans are backing.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said a plan from Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos that includes tougher prison sentences for illegal gun possession, using them for crimes or taking them on school property doesn't go far enough in the wake of a shooting a Connecticut school that killed 26 people.
"I don't think their plan goes far enough," Cuomo said. "It misses the mark, pardon the pun, a plan that doesn't ban assault weapons, with what we've seen."
Asked for his definition, Cuomo said, "Rifle with high-capacity magazine" and the characteristics of an assault weapon, but did not elaborate on exactly the traits he means. He is expected to present his gun proposal in his State of the State Address on Wednesday.
New York already bans assault weapons defined as semi-automatic guns that can accept detachable magazines and have military-style features like pistol grips, flash suppressors and bayonet mounts. Cuomo has described that ban as having "significant loopholes."
State law also bans large-capacity magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets and were made after 1994.
Skelos' proposal focused on illegal guns, which he said are those mostly used in crimes in New York. He said last week that any legislative agreement on gun safety should also include a stronger version of Kendra's Law, authorizing longer court-ordered mental health treatment for individuals who won't seek help but are deemed to be a safety threat.
On Monday, Skelos spokeswoman Kelly Cummings said Assembly Democrats were jeopardizing an agreement on comprehensive gun legislation. "The refusal of the Assembly Democrats to even consider putting in place tougher penalties, including mandatory minimum sentences for individuals who commit crimes with guns, illegally possess or sell guns, or to strengthen Kendra's Law, is unconscionable," she said.
Michael Whyland, spokesman for Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, said that statement was false, and retorted that the Senate Republicans are beholden to the gun lobby.
"Assembly Democrats have been working with the governor for the past three weeks on a comprehensive bill that would ban assault weapons and increase penalties for illegal guns. This is simply an attempt by Senate Republicans to shift the blame for their refusal to ban deadly assault weapons," he said.
Remington Arms Co. makes the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle, like the model police say was used in the Connecticut shootings, at its factory at Ilion in central New York, employing 1,000 workers in a Republican Senate district. The factory makes guns for the military and police, as well as firearms for sportsmen.
Authorities said the gunman was 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who killed his mother at home first, using the semi-automatic rifle which she owned, before the school rampage, which ended when he killed himself.
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