In the wake of last week's elementary school shooting in Connecticut, state lawmakers are calling for a package of gun control legislation. Zack Fink filed the following report.
Although he did not name it as a priority before the Newtown shootings, Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview that he is in the process of negotiating a package of stricter gun laws with legislative leaders.
"Our focus is assault weapons," Cuomo said. "What is an assault weapon? In this state, the assault weapon ban has more holes than Swiss cheese."
New York State has a ban on assault weapons, but Democrats have been trying to strengthen it, since certain guns are currently exempt.
"This is not something that will grandfather in existing weapons," said Assemblyman Brian Kavanaugh. "We are proposing to specify weapons you cannot own or sell, and we believe that law-abiding gun owners will obey that law and turn those weapons in."
Members of the Assembly said they received a call at their district offices from the Speaker's office at their district offices, telling them to be ready to vote on a gun control package in Albany as early as Thursday, and that they need to be in Albany. But Cuomo is now saying any action before the end of the year seems unlikely.
"The only thing that is going to happen in the next few days is Christmas," Cuomo said. "That's what's going to happen in next few days."
Republicans in the State Senate have blocked further gun restrictions. A spokesman for the Senate majority leader said this week that the Republican conference would rather focus on increasing penalties for illegal guns and mandatory minimum sentences.
Cuomo said he identifies with legal gun owners, revealing today that he is one.
"I understand the rights of gun owners. I understand the rights of hunters. As you know, I have a gun," he said. "Shotgun."
Democrats are pushing a series of reforms, including mandatory license renewals.
"At the end of that five-year period, essentially, that license is null and void, and the requirements to issue a new license include, for example, character checks," said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. "And those kinds of things go to the heart of what happened in Newtown."