N.Y. Governor Calls for Gun Reform Following Fla. Shooting
Feb. 15—A tough 2014 gun control law enacted in New York has resulted in 75,000 mentally ill people being dubbed by the state as too dangerous to own a firearm, Gov. Cuomo announced Thursday.
Cuomo pushed through the SAFE Act in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre that resulted in the deaths of 20 children and six school staffers.
Among the provisions was the banning of assault weapons like the AR-15 used in the Florida school shooting this week and a requirement that mental health providers report to the state if they deem a patient a serious threat to the public or themselves.
As of December, 75,000 mentally ill people were placed in a state database designed to keep guns out of the hands of unstable and dangerous people, Cuomo said.
"The horrific shooting at a school in Florida once again has this nation asking how Congress can in good conscience continue to turn a blind eye to the dangers of gun violence," Cuomo said. "It's time this nation followed New York's lead and passed smart gun safety legislation that keeps guns away from those who will use them for evil. Too many children have died because of Washington's failure to act."
Tom King, president of the state Rifle and Pistol Association and an NRA board member, said he didn't want to comment on the Florida shooting until he finds out how the shooter got the weapon.
But he called on the state to "harden" the schools by installing metal detectors and placing manpower—potentially retired soldiers or ex-cops—at the doors to check bags.
"No matter what the governor touts, it can still happen here in New York," King said.
State Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) said the Florida school shooting is just the latest reason the state should pass his bills requiring every school be manned by an armed police officer and all schools to include emergency response drills for all situations including active shooters or other lethal attacks.
"Our hearts are in the right place, but without taking decisive action we are failing—and the price of failure is unthinkable," Felder said.
Many Democrats oppose the idea of placing armed law enforcement at all schools.
Meanwhile, the state Senate Republicans have refused to take up any gun control legislation since the passage of the SAFE Act, which infuriated their conservative base.
This year, Gov. Cuomo and some lawmakers are pushing bills to keep firearms out of the hands of anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime and to outlaw bumpstock devices like the ones used in last year's Las Vegas mass shooting.
They note that Senate Republicans since 2000 have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donation from pro-gun interests like the National Rifle Association.
"Studies have proven that states, like New York, with stronger firearm safety laws, have fewer gun-caused deaths," said Senate Democratic Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. "Unfortunately my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have taken their lead from their extremist Washington allies and for years have refused to move any common sense gun laws."
A Senate GOP spokesman had no comment.