A hotly debated topic since the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings and an issue raised in the Governor's State of the State Address is gun control. Our Lori Chung was in Green Island with local reaction to the Governor's pledge to reform gun laws in New York State.
ALBANY COUNTY, N.Y. – “Let’s pass safe and fair legislation and lead the way once again in saving lives,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Honoring the families of the two Webster, New York firefighters who were killed by a gunman who set his home ablaze as a trap for first responders, Governor Cuomo laid out a plan to close loopholes in New York’s gun laws strengthening the ban against assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“Forget the extremists,” said Cuomo. “It’s simple. No one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer.”
In his State of the State Address, Cuomo says background checks for private sales, tougher penalties for those caught with illegal guns and he wants to make sure that mental health professionals who suspect that a gun owner may cause harm to others will alert authorities.
“It’s really just talking about keeping guns that are designed for the military out of civilian hands”, said Leah Gunn Barrett of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “You hunt people with that and we don’t think that should be encouraged.”
After that deadly ambush in Webster and the tragic shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that left 20 children dead, it’s a welcome message to groups like NYAGV, but others warn against a rush to action.
“Gun control needs to happen in this country absolutely. I don’t think you’ll find a gun owner that doesn’t agree with that, but [the problem] is more towards illegal gun sales,” said Les McDermott, owner of Veteran’s Gun Depot in Green Island.
McDermott says most of his customers are responsible with their weapons. He says what the state really needs is a comprehensive approach.
“They need to sit with people like myself and other legal gun owners that know how to properly own and what should be regulated.”
Now that Cuomo has named gun control as a priority, the focus shifts to how lawmakers are viewing this issue. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Speaker has said that he believes gun control is achievable in New York. In the Senate, Majority Leader Dean Skelos recently laid out a republican gun control proposal dealing more with stiffer penalties for illegal and improper gun use.