Democrats push gun control in Albany, without much hope for consensus

Gianaris and gun control advocates. (Azi Paybarah via flickr)
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Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he wants to find a "consensus" on new gun control laws that could pass both the Republican-controlled State Senate, and the State Assembly, where Democrats have a majority.

But Democratic lawmakers who convened at City Hall this afternoon to push a new set of gun control regulations were skeptical that they would find a willing partner in the upper chamber.

"Senate Republicans time and again have stood in the way," said state senator Michael Gianaris, saying "they would not even allow us to have a vote on the floor on micro-stamping."

The micro-stamping bill, which would stamp ammunition with a unique code from each firearm, and enjoys the support of both Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was blocked by Senate Republicans during this year's legislative session. (An attempt to pass the bill in 2010, when Democrats controlled both chambers, also failed.)

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State senator Dan Squadron, also referring to the micro-stamping bill, said it was blocked "again and again and again, on a party line vote, the Republican majority said no-way."

State senator Gustavo Rivera referred to the Democratic proposals as "common sense" and said the shared goal is to make it "harder for criminals to get their hands on guns and easier for police officers to investigate gun crimes."

Gun control advocates are outspent 30-to-1 in campaigns, according to State Senator Liz Krueger, who referred to opponents as a "pro-criminal" coalition.

Assemblyman Brain Kavanagh said he had "actually been compared to Nazi Germany for suggesting that sellers of gun should have a background check—on the floor of the Assembly, by a colleague."

Kavanagh said the people blocking the gun control bills in Albany are "the actual people manufacturing and selling these guns and paying for, essentially, front groups," who lobby lawmakers and make it appear as if the opponents have popular support.

Given the resistance from Republicans, Democrats aren't setting their sights particularly high.

"If the Assembly can pass a bill that keeps guns out of the hands of the violently mentally-ill, four years in a row with overwhelming bi-partisan support, I know we can do it in the Senate," said State senator Jose Peralta.

UPDATE: Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans, emailed, "According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, New York already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Despite that, we agree that more can be done to combat criminals who use illegal guns, which make up the overwhelming majority of gun crimes in New York. It's sad that Senator Gianaris is once again injecting politics into this debate, rather than working with us to get a result."