Cuomo’s (Bloomberg’s?) Gun Proposal

Just two days after Mayor Bloomberg made headlines with yet another initiative to fight illegal guns, Andrew Cuomo announced his own gun control plan this afternoon while receiving an endorsement from the NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association.

Cuomo said that he had not personally conferred with the mayor or reached out to Bloomberg’s staff at City Hall about the plan — a statewide coalition of mayors to stop the flow of illegal guns. (Ring a bell?)

But as it turns out, his campaign had reached out. And, according to the mayor’s press office, Cuomo did too.

“I shared the proposal with the mayor’s office in advance,” said Wendy Katz, Cuomo’s press secretary, who emphasized that the proposal was not coordinated with City Hall.

Katz also stressed that the coalition Cuomo proposed is not a rip off of the national one the mayor has spearheaded but that it is “building on the one that he formed in 2000,” which followed the Smith & Wesson agreement that established gunmaker codes of conduct.

(Interestingly, that proposal was the one that prompted the New York Post to report in 2000 that Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer were “at each other’s throats over getting credit for the Smith & Wesson safer-guns deal.”)

Is this another example of an aspiring politician following Bloomberg’s lead?

Or was the timing merely coincidental?

Here’s what Stu Loeser had to say about the matter: “Cuomo did speak with Ed Skyler, who is heading up the mayor’s gun initiative, this morning as a courtesy head’s up. He called this morning before the event, I don’t know if
they connected before the event or after.”

And, he added somewhat diplomatically, “The more the issue of illegal guns is talked about the happier we are.”

Anyway, judge for yourself: the release is after the jump.

- Jason Horowitz

ANDREW CUOMO UNVEILS FIVE-POINT PLAN TO FIGHT GUN VIOLENCE AND STAND
UP TO GUN INDUSTRY

10,000-Member NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) Praises
Cuomo’s Record & Plan to Keep Guns Out of Hands of Criminals and
Children and Help Law Enforcement Protect New Yorkers

NEW YORK, NY (June 7, 2006) – Today, New York State Attorney General
candidate Andrew Cuomo unveiled a five-point plan to fight gun
violence and hold the gun industry accountable for the products they
sell. Cuomo rolled out proposals to keep guns from falling into the
hands of criminals and children, while standing with the 10,000-member
New York City Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) which endorsed
both the plan and Cuomo’s bid for Attorney General. Michael
Wolkowitz, Vice Chairman, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and
Jackie Kuhls, Executive Director, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence
(NYAGV) also endorsed the five-point plan.

“Law enforcement is proud to stand with Andrew Cuomo, New York’s next
Attorney General,” said Edward D. Mullins, President, New York City
Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA). “From cracking down on the
sale of illegal guns, to launching the nation’s largest gun buyback
initiative with police, to helping officers establish real, lasting
connections in their communities so they can protect neighborhoods,
Andrew Cuomo will continue to deliver results that help save lives and
make our streets safer.”

On May 28th, Cuomo earned the endorsements of Sarah and James S.
Brady, two of the nation’s greatest leaders in the fight to prevent
gun violence. James S. Brady, former White House Press Secretary to
President Reagan, was shot, along with Reagan and two law enforcement
officers, when John Hinckley attempted to assassinate the President on
March 30, 1981.

“We will never forget how you stood up to the gun lobby when you
served in President Clinton’s cabinet, and we are eternally grateful,”
said Sarah Brady in a letter of endorsement to Andrew Cuomo (see
letter below). “As Attorney General, you would bring a great deal of
knowledge, experience and courage to that good fight… Jim and I as
citizens are happy to say that for all the hard work you’ve done to
combat gun violence over the years, we are firmly supportive of your
candidacy, and will do everything that we can to help you to be
elected to serve New Yorkers as Attorney General.”

As Cuomo unveiled his five-point plan to fight gun violence, he said,
“I am humbled and honored to have the support of the men and women who
are on the frontlines each and every day protecting us. As Attorney
General, I will be law enforcement’s strongest voice and will fight to
ensure that they have the tools and the support to perform their
life-saving work. That is why, I will organize a statewide coalition
of mayors and county executives to stem the tide of crime guns by
forcing gun manufacturers and dealers to follow a stringent code of
conduct and act responsibly. I will fight to keep guns out of the
wrong hands through smart gun technology that only permits authorized
users to discharge firearms. I will also fight to ensure that law
enforcement has the most cutting-edge and effective tools, such as
microstamping, to help them solve crimes at the scene. Finally, I
will work my hardest to fight for the enactment of a package of
proposals by the legislature that will save lives. For too long now,
the Bush Administration and the Republican Congress has buckled under
the pressure of the gun lobby and allowed the NRA dictate how we
protect our citizens. The era of special interests infringing on our
safety is over. I will stop at nothing to stand up for New Yorkers
and protect their families.”

Andrew Cuomo’s Five-Point Plan to Keep Guns Off Our Streets

1) Create a Statewide Coalition of Mayors and County Executives to
Stop the Flow of Illegal Guns: Using HUD’s Communities for Safer Guns
Coalition as a model, the new statewide coalition of mayors and county
executives will hold gun manufacturers and dealers accountable for the
responsible sale of their products. Members of the coalition will
purchase firearms for their police departments only from gun
manufacturers and dealers that adhere to the code of conduct as
outlined in the proposed statewide Gun Industry Responsibility Act
(GIRA) (see below).

2) Require Smart Gun Technology: As provided for in the HUD Safe Gun
Agreement, once available, all new guns in New York State would be
required to feature “smart gun” technology to ensure that only
authorized purchasers could fire their gun.

3) Require Microstamping of Guns to Help Law Enforcement Track Down
Illegal Guns and Solve Crimes: All new semiautomatic handguns sold in
New York will be required to be equipped with microstamping
technology. Microstamping is a new identification technology that
complements current ballistic fingerprinting. The basic technology
involves making precise microscopic engravings of the make and model
of the gun on the firing pin or inside the chamber of the gun. When
the firearm is discharged, that imprint is stamped onto the shell
casing, allowing it to be read by the police. This technology will
enable law enforcement to immediately read the microscopic serial
numbers on the shell casings and link the evidence to the specific gun
that fired the round. The immediate response-time could provide
critical case leads at the beginning of a criminal investigation.
While effective, our current ballistic fingerprinting technology
requires police and forensic laboratory specialists to undergo the
additional step of analyzing and comparing the subtle markings left by
each firearm on shell casings with the gun or another shell casing.

4) Ban Sale of “Saturday Night Specials” or Junk Guns: These guns are
favored by criminals because of their low cost and ability to be
easily concealed. They are traditionally not used for sport or
self-defense because of their inaccuracy. Currently, Maryland and
Massachusetts ban these junk guns, while a number of other states
heavily regulate their sale.

5) Fight to Enact Comprehensive Package of Existing Proposals:
Enactment of a series of bills will help to curb illegal trafficking
and accidental gun violence. (See attached.)

Letter from Sarah Brady

May 26, 2006

Mr. Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo for Attorney General
1740 Broadway, Eighth Floor
New York, NY 10019

Dear Andrew;

Jim and I are thrilled that you’re seeking to serve the people of New
York as Attorney General. We know that you’ll do a wonderful job, as
you have in every important position that you’ve served in during your
career.

We will never forget how you stood up to the gun lobby when you served
in President Clinton’s cabinet, and we are eternally grateful. New
Yorkers are hearing a great deal about the trafficking of illegal guns
lately, and we’re very grateful for the critical work that Mayor
Bloomberg has been doing on focusing public attention on this subject.
As Attorney General, you would bring a great deal of knowledge,
experience and courage to that good fight.

While the organization we work for does not endorse in political
primary elections, Jim and I as citizens are happy to say that for all
the hard work you’ve done to combat gun violence over the years, we
are firmly supportive of your candidacy, and will do everything that
we can to help you to be elected to serve New Yorkers as Attorney
General.

Sincerely,

Sarah Brady

###

White Paper: Fighting to Keep Guns Off Our Streets

Gun Violence in New York State and City
There are approximately 1,000 gun deaths in New York State each year.
In New York City alone there are between 3-400 deaths due to gun
violence. While the vast majority of guns are sold to legal buyers
who purchase them lawfully, a small but significant minority is
diverted to the illegal market. Almost 60% of the guns traced to
crime by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (ATF) originated
from 1% of the nation’s gun dealers. 92% of the illegal handguns used
in New York City come from out of state, while 40% of crime guns in
upstate New York come from other states. The primary cause of illegal
guns in New York can be linked to irresponsible gun dealers and
manufacturers who recklessly allow these lethal weapons to fall into
the hands of criminals. Over the past six years, these gun dealers
and manufacturers have received unprecedented protection from the Bush
administration and the Republican Congress who allowed their actions
to be dictated by the NRA. For the first time, the gun industry was
granted blanket immunity from civil lawsuits even when their
negligence contributed to a crime through passage of the Protection of
Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. New York needs a strong, experienced
fighter who will protect our neighborhoods and stand up to these
powerful forces.

Andrew Cuomo’s Record on Preventing Gun Violence

• Negotiated Landmark HUD Safe Gun Agreement with Smith & Wesson: In
2000, on behalf of the Clinton Administration, HUD Secretary Andrew
Cuomo negotiated the landmark Safe Gun Agreement with Smith &
Wesson–the largest gun manufacturer in the nation–setting the stage
for a potential global industry-wide settlement and providing the
template for subsequent gun manufacturer and gun dealer codes of
conduct. Under the historic settlement, the gun maker agreed to make
sweeping and dramatic changes in the way it manufactures, distributes,
and markets firearms to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and
children. In return the mayors of the cities, the county executives,
and Attorneys General (including New York’s Eliot Spitzer), agreed to
drop their claims against Smith & Wesson.

The HUD Safe Gun Agreement included critical enforcement and oversight
mechanisms that specified Smith & Wesson would: 1) follow a gun
manufacturer code of conduct prohibiting the company from doing
business with dealers responsible for selling a disproportionate
number of guns used in crimes; 2) bar gun sales without a background
check of the buyer to prevent straw purchases and other suspect
firearm sales; 3) require the inclusion of gun tracing data and
mandate a comprehensive series of safety features including locking
devices, “smart gun” technology, and other features to prevent
accidental and criminal gun deaths; 4) limit the delivery of multiple
handgun sales; and, 5) refrain from advertising in a manner that
appeals to criminals.

The HUD Safe Gun Agreement, in response to pressure from the gun
lobby, was voided.

• Created Nationwide Communities for Safer Guns Coalition: To promote
the agreement’s code of conduct and ensure its implementation
nationwide, Cuomo launched the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition
comprised of more than 400 state and local governments around the
nation. Coalition members pledged to give favorable consideration in
their purchase of firearms to gun manufacturers that adopted new gun
safety and dealer responsibility standards.

Members of the Communities for Safer Guns Coalition in New York State
included officials from: Akron, Albany, Amsterdam, Auburn, Babylon,
Baldwinsville, Bethany, Binghamton, Brighton, Bronx, Brooklyn,
Buffalo, Byron, Chateaugay, Chester, Chestnut Ridge, Chozy, Colonie,
Constable, Coventry, Croton-on-Hudson, Cuba, Darien, East Hampton,
Elmira, Erie County, Evans, Freeport, Geneseo, Glen Cove, Greenburgh,
Green Island, Hempstead, Holley, Hornell, Ithaca, LaGrange, Le Roy,
Liberty, Long Beach, Lyons, Madison County, Manhattan, Middletown,
Manlius, Mount Morris, Mount Vernon, Nassau County, New Castle, New
Paltz, New Rochelle, New Square, New York City, New York State,
Niagara County, North Hempstead, North Tonawanda, Olive, Oneonta,
Orangetown, Orchard Park, Ossining, Oyster Bay, Plattekill,
Plattsburgh, Pomona, Queens, Ramapo, Rockville Center, Russia,
Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, Southampton, Southold, Springfield,
Spring Valley, Staten Island, Troy, Unionville, Utica, Westchester
County, Wurtsboro, and Yorkshire.

• Organized Gun Buyback and Violence Reduction Initiative: As HUD
Secretary Cuomo organized the Gun Buyback and Violence Reduction
Initiative, the largest gun buyback program in the nation’s history.
This program helped to remove more than 10,000 guns from America’s
streets. The program enabled police departments around the country to
buy guns from the public on a “no questions asked” basis.

• Launched Officer Next Door Program: To help keep neighborhoods safe
and make community policing a reality, Cuomo promoted the Officer Next
Door Program which allowed police officers to purchase homes in the
communities they policed for half the price.

Andrew Cuomo’s Five-Point Plan to Keep Guns Off Our Streets

1) Create a Statewide Coalition of Mayors and County Executives to
Stop the Flow of Illegal Guns: Using HUD’s Communities for Safer Guns
Coalition as a model, the new statewide coalition of mayors and county
executives will hold gun manufacturers and dealers accountable for the
responsible sale of their products. Members of the coalition will
purchase firearms for their police departments only from gun
manufacturers and dealers that adhere to the code of conduct as
outlined in the proposed statewide Gun Industry Responsibility Act
(GIRA) (see below).

2) Require Smart Gun Technology: As provided for in the HUD Safe Gun
Agreement, once available, all new guns in New York State would be
required to feature “smart gun” technology to ensure that only
authorized purchasers could fire their gun.

3) Require Microstamping of Guns to Help Law Enforcement Track Down
Illegal Guns and Solve Crimes: All new semiautomatic handguns sold in
New York will be required to be equipped with microstamping
technology. Microstamping is a new identification technology that
complements current ballistic fingerprinting. The basic technology
involves making precise microscopic engravings of the make and model
of the gun on the firing pin or inside the chamber of the gun. When
the firearm is discharged, that imprint is stamped onto the shell
casing, allowing it to be read by the police. This technology will
enable law enforcement to immediately read the microscopic serial
numbers on the shell casings and link the evidence to the specific gun
that fired the round. The immediate response-time could provide
critical case leads at the beginning of a criminal investigation.
While effective, our current ballistic fingerprinting technology
requires police and forensic laboratory specialists to undergo the
additional step of analyzing and comparing the subtle markings left by
each firearm on shell casings with the gun or another shell casing.

4) Ban Sale of “Saturday Night Specials” or Junk Guns: These guns are
favored by criminals because of their low cost and ability to be
easily concealed. They are traditionally not used for sport or
self-defense because of their inaccuracy. Currently, Maryland and
Massachusetts ban these junk guns, while a number of other states
heavily regulate their sale.

5) Fight to Enact Comprehensive Package of Existing Proposals:
Enactment of the following bills will help to curb illegal trafficking
and accidental gun violence.

• Gun Industry Responsibility Act (GIRA) (S. 1649/Schneiderman) This
bill would force the gun industry to prevent illegal trafficking or
pay the cost for the harm suffered by victims of gun violence. It
would give victims of gun violence the right to sue gun manufacturers
for civil damages unless the manufacturers take reasonable steps,
which are outlined in a code of conduct, to prevent their products
from falling into the hands of criminals. In 2005, New York City
enacted a similar bill, also called GIRA, sponsored by Council Member
Yassky. This bill would expand that strategy statewide. The code of
conduct includes the following standards and would require gun
manufacturers seeking to do business with the State of New York to
adhere to the same code of conduct:

o Prohibiting the sale of weapons to dealers whose guns consistently
wind up in the illegal market. Specifically, prohibiting the sale of
weapons to dealers who have sold more than 20 weapons in any 12-month
period in the past five years that have been used in crimes or
illegally possessed;
o Only selling to dealers who maintain an electronic database
including specifications of all guns held in inventory or for sale,
and the names and license numbers of all gun buyers;
o Providing full access of records to law enforcement and government
regulators;
o Limiting purchases by an individual to one weapon per 30 days in
order to prevent individuals from acting as “straw purchasers;”
o Implementing a security plan for securing weapons in transit;
o Prohibiting the sale of weapons at gun shows without a mandatory
background check for each sale made at that gun show.

• Gun Dealer and Manufacturer Responsibility Measure (A.9280/Paulin):
This bill would establish stricter standards for gun dealers to
include improved record keeping, liability insurance, inventory
security and mandatory training of salespeople. It would lower the
threshold number of guns required for criminal possession and sale of
firearms.

• Tracking Guns Involved in Crimes (A.2213/Koon D-Perinton): This
bill requires law enforcement personnel to submit ballistic
information to the new State police Ballistic Identification Databank
whenever spent bullets, shell casings or guns come into their
possession. Currently, local law enforcement agencies are NOT
required to submit evidence to a centralized crime
laboratory/databank. Requiring agencies to do so would facilitate
exchange of information, increase the effectiveness of labs and local
law enforcement. Although this would not be as effective as
microstamping, it is a good solution for identifying guns used in
multiple criminal activities. (Passed in NYS Assembly in January
2006.)

• Childproofing Firearms (A.2302/Englebright D-Setauket): This bill
makes it a Class A misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in jail)
to sell guns without childproof features. Covered under provisions of
the bill are pistols or revolvers manufactured 12 or more months after
the effective date of the bill. Design features could include making
the weapon more difficult to fire by adjusting the trigger resistance
of the gun to at least a 10-pound pull, altering the firing mechanism
so that an average five-year-old child’s hand would be too small to
operate the gun or requiring a series of multiple motions in order to
fire the gun. (Passed in the NYS Assembly in January 2006.)

• Ban Armor Piercing Ammunition (A.2837/Koon D-Perinton): This bill
bans armor-piercing ammunition (designed for Gulf War) designed to
explode upon impact. More than 140 police and sheriffs departments
around the state have signed resolutions.

• Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Violent Felons (A.1170/Dinowitz
D-Bronx): This bill eliminates a loophole that allows a convicted
violent felon to obtain a firearms license and possess a weapon after
being granted a legal waiver. Current law allows a convicted violent
felon to possess a rifle or shotgun lawfully after being issued a
“certificate of good conduct.” Under this legislation, violent felons
who are issued a certificate of relief from disabilities or
certificate of good conduct would be prevented from obtaining a
firearms license. The bill also criminalizes the possession of a
rifle or shotgun by a convicted violent felon. (Passed in the NYS
Assembly in January 2006.)
• Keeping Guns Out of Hands of Domestic Abusers (A.2404/O’Donnell
D-Manhattan): This bill seeks to protect victims of domestic violence
by requiring criminal or family court judges to inquire about the
existence and location of firearms owned or possessed by a defendant
when an order of protection is sought. (Passed in NYS Assembly in
January 2006.)
• Stopping Assault Weapons (A.2466-A/Lavelle D-Staten Island): This
bill closes the loopholes in New York State’s current assault weapons
ban. Seeking to address the void when President Bush and Congress
allowed the federal assault weapon ban to expire, the Assembly
proposal would expand the definition of assault weapon to prohibit
more of these deadly guns in New York – including guns that have been
modified to work like assault weapons. (Passed in NYS Assembly in
January 2006.)
• Banning 50-Caliber Weapons (A.4471-A/Eddington D-Medford (Suffolk
County): This bill bans 50-caliber sniper weapons, which can be used
to disable commercial aircraft and helicopters and are powerful enough
to penetrate steel plating. These dangerous weapons, which are used
extensively by the United States military, are accurate from over one
mile away. They continue to be available for purchase in New York by
anyone who can buy a rifle. The Assembly had sought to include a ban
on these weapons in a comprehensive state anti-terrorism law passed
two years ago, but the proposal was rejected by the Senate and the
governor each time. (Passed in the NYS Assembly in January 2006.)
• The Children’s Weapon Accident Prevention Act (A.673-A/Weisenberg):
This bill seeks to protect children from accidental shootings. Five
new categories of crimes against individuals would be created under
the bill’s provisions for negligent storage of a weapon. Gun retailers
would be required to alert consumers about the new weapons storage
requirements. The state Education Department would develop a weapons
safety program to teach children how to prevent weapon accidents.
(Passed by NYS Assembly in January 2006)
• Gun Alteration Prevention (A. 895/Lentol): This bill would prevent
the alteration or design of guns to appear to resemble toy guns.