Senate Approves Gun Control Legislation, Assembly Delays
A sweeping gun control bill cleared its biggest hurdle this evening, with the state Senate approving the legislation 43 to 18.
The Democratic-dominated Assembly adjourned without voting, but is expected to take up the measure when it convenes tomorrow morning.
With passage in the Assembly very likely, New York would become the first state to pass a gun control law in the wake of a spate of deadly shooting sprees last year, including the Connecticut elementary school massacre that killed 20 children.
It’s a major victory for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, even as some Republicans and gun rights advocates grumbled that the bill was being rushed through the legislative process and was little more than a means of burnishing his liberal credentials on the national stage.
“Tonight, the Senators that voted for the NY SAFE Act of 2013 made a bold statement, coming together in a bipartisan, collaborative manner to meet the challenges that face our state and our nation, as we have seen far too many senseless acts of gun violence,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“I commend Senator Skelos, Senator Klein, and Senator Stewart-Cousins for their hard work on this important legislation.”
In addition to be an early victory for Cuomo, who is entering the third year of his four-year term, the measure was seen as an early test for the new coalition of Republicans and five independent Democrats that is leading the state Senate.
Senate Republicans touted the anti-crime provisions in the legisaltion that increase penalties for criminal who use illegal guns, expand requirements for treatment for the violently mentally ill and limits the public exposure of gun permit holders’ information.
“We’ve made a conscious decision that we’re going to bring more bills to the floor and members would be able to vote yes and no as they wish. I think what’s significant about this legislation is what we’ve managed to get in it,” said Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, who voted yes.
Still, the swift passage of the measure is already drawing the ire of the National Rifle Association and Second Amendment advocates, along with the base of the Republican Party.
Several of the more conservative, upstate members of Skelos’ conference voted against the measure, including Sens. Greg Ball and Kathy Marchione – the only two GOP members who actually spoke on the floor.
The bill passed with no debate. Senators stood to explain their respective votes – if they so chose. Most Republicans took a pass.
Ball has been particularly outspoken on this issue, leading the charge against the decision of a Hudson Valley newspaper to publish online a database of handgun permit holders.
“We haven’t saved any lives tonight except for one: the political life of a governor who wants to be president,” Ball said.
But the leadership of the Senate Republicans seem to be glad that the issue for them legislatively is now behind them. (Of course, the political price they might pay down the line remains to be seen).
“Everybody has to do what they feel is the right thing to do,” Skelos said when asked about NRA backlash.
“I know this is a difficult for many to deal with. I know for me in looking at this legislation that it is well-balanced.”
The so-called “regular” Senate Democrats, meanwhile, celebrated the measure’s passage.
Democrats had carried a number of the gun control bills in the past, and many of their components were included in the final package approved this evening.
“We commend Governor Cuomo for this historic package of bills, consistent with legislation proposed by the Senate Democratic Conference for years but always blocked by the Senate Republicans,” said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
“The Senate Democrats were proud to provide the votes to make this crucial package possible. The fact is, the bills passed today should have been enacted a long time ago.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 14, 2013 at 11:54 pm, and is filed under Albany, Andrew Cuomo, Dean Skelos, Democrats, Gun control, Republicans, State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|