One of the most hotly anticipated elements of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s annual State of the State address today was his plan to enact “sweeping” gun control reforms in New York. In his speech, the governor outlined a seven-point gun control plan focused on “high-capacity assault rifles” that he promised would be one of the “toughest” in the nation and lead similar laws to spread beyond New York.
“Gun violence has been on a rampage as we know firsthand and as we know painfully,” said the governor. “We must stop the madness, my friends. In one word, it’s just ‘enough.’ It has been enough. We need a gun policy in this state that is reasonable, that is balanced, that is measured.”
The governor continued by saying his gun control proposals are not about “taking away people’s guns.”
As he has in the past, the governor tried to boost his credibility on the issue by emphasizing the fact he is a gun owner.
“We respect hunters and sportsmen. This is not taking away peoples’ guns,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I own a gun. I own a Remington shotgun. I’ve hunted, I’ve shot. That’s not what this is about. It’s about ending the unnecessary risk of high-capacity assault rifles. That’s what this is about.”
To that end, the governor outlined the items on his seven-point gun plan.
“Number one: Enact the toughest assault weapon ban in the nation, period!” he shouted, before ticking off his other new gun control proposals. “Number two, close the private sale loophole by requiring federal background checks. Number three, ban high-capacity magazines. Number four, enact tougher penalties for illegal gun use, guns in school grounds and violent gangs. Number five, keep guns from people who are mentally ill. Number six, ban direct internet sales of ammunition in New York. Number seven, create a state [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] check on all ammunition purchases.”
Mr. Cuomo predicted the rest of the country will follow New York’s lead and adopt stiffer gun laws.
“New York State led the way on guns once before. It was the Sullivan’s law of 1911, which was the first-in-the-nation gun control law. A model law,” he explained.
The governor’s address was over an hour long and included plans to: pass a “women’s equality act,” implement “a bar exam-type test that every teacher takes and must pass before we put them in a classroom,” raise the minimum wage, decriminalize less than 15 grams of marijuana, reform the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy, open casinos around the state (but not in the five boroughs), drive commerce to upstate New York with a marketing push and bolster infrastructure to be better prepared for natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. In spite of all his other proposals, Governor Cuomo returned to gun control for the grand finale of his speech.
“I know that the issue of gun control is hard. I know that it’s political. I know it’s controversial,” the governor said, his voice rising with every word. “I say to you, forget the extremists! It’s simple: no one hunts with an assault rifle! No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer! Too many innocent people have died already! End this madness now!”
By the end of the speech, the governor was shouting.
“Pass safe, reasonable gun control in the State of New York! Make this state safer! Save lives! Set an example for the rest of the nation! Let them look at New York and say, ‘This is what you can do! This is what you should do!’ This is New York, the progressive capital, you should them how we lead! We can do it! We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”
He left the stage to deafening applause from the assembled lawmakers.
Update (11:10 p.m.): NRA President David Keene responded to Governor Cuomo’s gun control proposals in a podcast interview late this evening.