ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - A key New York Senate leader and the Assembly
speaker said they expect the state Legislature to vote Monday to enact
what would be the nation's first gun control measure following last
month's Connecticut school shooting.
"I think when all is said and done, we are going to
pass a comprehensive gun bill today," Sen. Jeffrey Klein told reporters
Monday morning. "I'm very excited about it. I am very confident we are
going to vote on a comprehensive bill that will be agreed on by the
governor, the Senate and Assembly."
People familiar with closed-door negotiations told The Associated Press a tentative deal was struck over the weekend.
The tentative agreement would further restrict New
York's ban on assault weapons, limit the size of magazines to seven
bullets, down from the current 10, and enact more stringent background
checks for sales. Other elements, pushed by Republicans, would refine a
mental health law to make it easier to confine people determined to be a
threat to themselves or others.
Senate Republicans also have included a further
crackdown on illegal gun trafficking into New York, the people said.
Most New York City gun crimes involve weapons illegally brought into the
state, state and city officials say.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity because
the proposal had not been discussed among rank and file legislators.
They say the tentative deal will be debated behind closed doors Monday
in the Senate and the Democrat-led Assembly and could be sent to the
floor for a vote Monday.
A Cuomo administration official, who also spoke on
condition of anonymity because the deal was not final, said there was no
A vote Monday would come exactly one month after a
gunman killed 20 children and six adults inside Sandy Hook Elementary
School in Newtown, Conn.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the deal will include ways for schools to use state aid to better guard against shootings.
The vote also would require Cuomo to issue a
"message of necessity" that would dispense with the three days of public
review that bills are supposed to have under the state constitution.
There was no immediate comment from Cuomo, who made these gun control
provisions a keynote of his State of the State address on Wednesday.
"I think the message out there is clear after
Newtown and to get us down this road as quickly as possible to basically
eradicate assault weapons from our streets in New York as quickly as
possible is something the people of our state want," Silver said. "It's
an important thing to do. It is an emergency."
Silver said lawmakers continued into Monday settling the remaining issues of "how you do certain things in drafting it."
He said a registry of assault weapons will be
created, grandfathering in assault weapons already in private hands. He
said crimes using guns will get additional mandatory minimum sentences.
"The solution is to get those assault weapons off the street," Silver told reporters.
The bill will be the first test of the new
coalition in control of the state Senate, which has long been run by
Republicans opposed to gun control measures. The chamber is now in the
hands of Republicans and five breakaway Democrats led by Klein, an
arrangement expected to result in more progressive legislation.
Former Republican Sen. Michael Balboni said that
for legislators from the more conservative upstate region of New York,
gun control "has the intensity of the gay marriage issue." In 2011,
three of four Republicans who crossed the aisle to vote for same-sex
marriage ended up losing their jobs because of their votes.
"It was always startling to me the vast cultural
divide between New York City metropolitan view on gun control and most
of the upstate communities," said Balboni, who represented part of Long
Island for 10 years and was a Senate leader.
"Gun advocates see these incidents as almost
cyclical and that in the wake of a national shooting incident, they have
seen repeated calls for control," he said Monday. "They view it as a
slippery slope to the banning and confiscation of weapons. Emotions run
high and there will be tremendous pressure on all upstate legislators,
Republicans and Democrats, to keep their base."
Also a concern is a major gun manufacturer in upstate New York.
Remington Arms Co. makes the Bushmaster
semi-automatic rifle that was used in the Connecticut shootings and
again on Christmas Eve in Webster, N.Y., when two firefighters were
slain responding to a fire. The two-century-old Remington factory in
Ilion in central New York employs 1,000 workers in a Republican Senate
Republican Assemblyman Marc Butler warned last week that a more restrictive assault weapon ban could cost the factory 300 jobs.
Copyright 2013 The
Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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