Skelos Pushes Illegal Guns Legislation (Updatedx2)
A day after his governing partners in the five-member Independent Democratic Conference huddled privately with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his proposed gun control legislation, Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos unveiled his own plans on dealing with illegal firearms used for criminal activity.
While the measures unveiled by Skelos today are the most expansive policy proposal he has announced since the November elections, none of the provisions touch on what Cuomo has pushed for: a new assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines.
Instead, the GOP legislative package focuses on criminal activity and the intersection of illegal firearms.
Skelos, a Long Island Republican, is proposing an increase in mandatory minimum sentences for criminal weapons possession, as well as increased penalties for those convicted of a crime who use guns to commit felonies.
He is also pushing for increased penalties on those who murder emergency first responders, a nod to the recent shooting in Webster, outside of Rochester, in which a gunman killed two firefighters.
Another provision would created a monitoring system for violent offenders and increased penalties for those who possess a firearm on school grounds or a school bus.
“We need to target illegal guns so innocent people don’t become targets for criminals who have them” Skelos said in a statement.
“The statistics prove that the overwhelming majority of gun crimes involve the use of illegal guns. No new package of gun safety laws can be truly effective without including provisions that go after illegal guns and punish the people who use them against others.”
“Our goal is safer homes, safer neighborhoods and safer schools. Our proposal would achieve that goal.”
Skelos on Friday following the IDC meeting with Cuomo called for a strengthening of Kendra’s Law, a measure that requires the hospitilization of the violently mentally ill, which has stalled in the Democratic-led Assembly.
The push for new gun control legislation in Albany comes after a gunman killed 20 children in an elementary school last month in Connecticut.
Cuomo had pushed for a special session in the week leading up to Jan. 1, but a deal couldn’t coalesce with so many lawmakers out of town for the holidays.
IDC Sen. Jeff Klein told reporters after meeting with Cuomo that the governor wants to have some form of gun control pass this month. The meeting and the very public airing of it afterword appeared to have all the trappings of a signal that Cuomo was trying to apply new pressure on Republicans in the chamber to agree to his gun control package.
It’s unclear if Skelos’s unveiling of his plan today is a sign that talks have broken down on gun control, or if they’re nearing a beginning of the end toward a more comprehensive agreement.
Senate Republicans have been hesitant to take up gun control legislation in the last several years, most recently blocking a measure that would apply a unique imprint on bullet casings, known as microstamping following generous donations from the National Rifle Association to GOP lawmakers’ campaigns.
Cuomo said this week that while he supports microstamping, it is unlikely to pass this year.
UPDATE1: The governor was not at all pleased by Skelos’ latest chess move in this gun control game. His spokesman, Josh Vlasto, released the following bluntly-worded statement:
“Any gun policy that does not ban assault weapons ignores the reality of gun violence and insults the common sense of New Yorkers.”
And – no surprise here – the Senate Democrats sided with the governor, saying (through their spokesman Mike Murphy):
“Once again the Senate Republicans are standing in the way of real progress on common sense gun laws.”
“The Senate Democrats look forward to working with the Governor and the Assembly to strengthen our gun laws including expanding the ban of assault weapons.”
UPDATE2: Following the governor’s statement, Skelos spokesman SCott Reif released a clarification of sorts. Make it what you will:
“Senate Republicans are open to all common sense proposals to address gun violence.”
“Several weeks ago when the discussions on gun safety began, Senator Skelos said if there was legislation that could prevent a tragedy like the one that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut from happening here, we should pursue it.”
“And, we will continue to review and consider any and all proposals.”
“The fact is that 90 percent of the guns used in the commission of a gun crime in New York City and 70 percent of gun crimes in New York State are illegal guns from out of state.”
“We must do something about the illegal guns on our streets and in our neighborhoods, and it should be part of any agreement on gun safety legislation.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm, and is filed under Dean Skelos. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|