ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — During his State of the State address on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made an impassioned plea to the Legislature to ignore pressure from the gun lobby and end the madness of gun violence. He sought the toughest gun laws in the nation.
He admitted he’s a gun owner himself and said he doesn’t want to stop hunters and others from owning weapons, but Cuomo tried to shame the Legislature into action with a passionate speech on gun violence, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
“I say to you forget the extremists. It’s simple — no one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer and too many people have died already,” Cuomo said.
The governor tried — and failed — to get the Legislature to agree to a gun control plan in time for Wednesday’s State of the State message. Instead, he laid out an ambitious plan for making New York the national leader in keeping guns out of the hands of those who would do violence.
“End the madness now. Pass safe, reasonable gun control in the State of New York. Make this state safer. Save lives. Set an example for the rest of the nation. Let them look at New York and say this is what you can do. This is what you should do,” Cuomo said.
The governor proposed legislation to:
* Tighten the assault weapons ban
* Ban all large-capacity gun clips, some that hold 100 rounds
* Increase penalties for those who illegally buys guns, use guns on school property and who use guns in violence and drug-related gang activity
“This is New York, the progressive capital. You show them how we lead,” Cuomo said.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told CBS 2’s Kramer, however, the Legislature also has to do something about the number of assault weapons already owned by New Yorkers, especially in the wake of the violence at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“I would ban them, but as an alternative I think we have to register them, know where they are at the very least,” Speaker Silver said.
The Cuomo plan has the support of law enforcement officials.
“I thought the governor hit exactly the right note,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said.
“The governor was right on target,” Queens DA Richard Brown said, adding when asked if Cuomo could have pushed further, “[He went] as far as he can reasonably go with this Legislature.”
Pundits said Cuomo’s desire to lead the nation in gun control will serve him well if he decides to run for president in 2016.
“He’ll at least get ahead of the curve in Washington and in government and politics. That’s sometimes the whole game,” Hofstra University’s Larry Levy said.
So now comes the tough part, striking a deal with the Legislature and striking one fast.
The governor also laid out an ambitious agenda of new initiatives, including calling for the abolishing of the Long Island Power Authority, raising the minimum wage to $8.75, making teachers pass a “bar exam” to be certified and a 10-point plan for achieving equality for women.
“Anything that will deliver better service and be more responsive for our residents who pay amongst the highest electric rates in the country would be an absolutely right step,” Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.
Cuomo also said he would like to freeze utility rates for LIPA customers for three to five years.
“I’m just very pleased that the governor is focusing on an alternative scenario for us residents. It’s a monopoly and we are absolutely painted in a corner, we have no where to go,” Murray added.
The storm damaged or destroyed 305,000 housing units in New York and more than 265,000 businesses were disrupted in the state. More than 2 million customers lost power.
Cuomo said Wednesday that New York customers cannot afford to face catastrophic power losses every few years when powerful storms hit.
Cuomo has named a series of commission to look at infrastructure issues and is seeking federal funding to upgrade systems.
During his address, Cuomo lashed out at Congress for delaying providing federal aid to Sandy victims.
“This is an unprecedented situation in modern times where the federal government has not been responsive in the face of a disaster,” Cuomo said. “Do not play politics with the state of New York. Remember New York because New York will not forget.”
Cuomo also reintroduced an idea on raising the minimum wage, an idea he also pitched a year ago. Cuomo noted the minimum wage in 19 states, including neighbors in Connecticut, Vermont, and Massachusetts, is higher than in New York.
He also wants to make possession of up to 15 ounces of marijuana seen in “open view” to be punishable by only a violation and expand gambling in the state with three upstate casinos.
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