Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin is officially in damage-control mode after declaring “Hitler would be proud” of Governor Andrew Cuomo for fast-tracking gun control legislation through Albany.
“We were told to shut up and vote and that’s what this is all about,” Mr. McLaughlin said at a press conference today announcing a bill to limit the governor’s ability to issue “messages of necessity” to skip the normal deliberative process. Governor Cuomo has used the technique to pass several controversial bits of legislation including his gun control plan and last year’s infamous “big ugly” flurry of deals on redistricting, pensions, casino gambling, teacher evaluations and a DNA databank for criminals.
“Just don’t question it and vote. That’s basically the message here,” Mr. McLaughlin continued. “If that’s not dictatorial, I don’t know what is. Hitler would be proud, Mussolini would be proud of what we did here, Moscow would be proud, but that’s not democracy.”
Challenged by reporters after the press conference, Mr. McLaughlin initially stood by his comments. However, after a round of condemnations, including one from the Anti-Defamation League, the assemblyman quickly changed his tune and released a YouTube video apologizing for the remark.
“I made an analogy that I really should not have made and I’m very, very sorry about that,” he says in the video. “I called the governor to apologize; he did not deserve that. That wasn’t fair of me to do. So I apologize to the governor and to all of you for doing that. … Just like you, I’m human and I make mistakes sometimes, and that’s what this was. ”
However, Mr. McLaughlin reiterated his opposition to the message of necessity being used for New York State’s new gun control law.
“I’m very passionate about defending my constituents,” he explained. “I’ve gotten thousands and thousands of calls from them and they’re upset about the way this bill was handled. And I’m upset with the way it was handled. New Yorkers deserve better than what they got here in Albany the past couple weeks. We cannot rush bills through without having them being given the proper debate they deserve.”
For his part, Mr. Cuomo defended the move, arguing the new gun policies needed to be quickly expedited to stop the public from stocking up on assault weapons while the Legislature debated.
Watch Mr. McLaughlin’s video below: