Friday, February 12, 2016

Is gun deal a sign of what’s to come?

By Adam Wisnieski

Days before this year’s highly anticipated legislative session opened in Albany, state Sen. Jeff Klein and Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined together to work on tightening the state’s gun control laws.

The move may be a sign of how Mr. Cuomo will work with Mr. Klein and his Independent Democratic Conference to accomplish his agenda over the next two years.

It also may be an indication that Mr. Klein will, with Mr. Cuomo’s backing, challenge senate Republicans with whom he recently formed a power-sharing coalition. 

On Jan. 4, Mr. Cuomo sat down with the IDC to talk gun control and after the meeting, both the governor and Mr. Klein said passing related legislation would be the top priority this session. 

Though the exact details were not available as of press time, Mr. Klein said in a statement that he supports legislation that will “create the strongest assault weapons ban in the country, severely limit the size of ammunition clips and magazines and enhance New York’s mental health screening process to prevent guns from getting in the hands of those who we should protect from — rather than unnecessarily expose to — the dangers of gun violence.”

State Sen. Dean Skelos, who formed the coalition with Mr. Klein to jointly rule the Senate, then announced a plan on Saturday to crack down on illegal guns, contending that is the real problem.

Mr. Cuomo released a one-sentence retort. 

“Any gun policy that does not ban assault weapons ignores the reality of gun violence and insults the common sense of New Yorkers,” Mr. Cuomo said in the statement.

This union between Mr. Klein and Mr. Cuomo is not unusual given the two lawmakers agree on almost every major issue, but it does put Mr. Klein in an uncomfortable spot, siding with Mr. Cuomo against Republicans, with whom he just formed a coalition.

Is this how things are going to go in Albany this session?

During the scrum for power following the November election, Mr. Cuomo wrote an op-ed in the Times Union in early December to say he’s concerned with issues over political labels. Here’s his litmus test for approval:

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