State lawmakers, Congress and apparently the National Rifle Association must wake up and recognize the urgency behind stricter gun regulations.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s efforts to return the State Legislature to Albany before Christmas in order to hammer out a deal that would add new controls to assault-style weapons and other restrictions never happened.
So much for New York leading the charge on stronger gun laws since the Dec. 14 killings in Connecticut.
Despite the lack of substantive action, gun rights advocates are accusing the governor of simply grandstanding for a possible presidential run in 2016.
A healthy bit of skepticism, especially when it comes to politics, is always advisable. But looking at it from another perspective, those legislators who wanted a special session in order to give themselves a pay raise couldn’t have used a return to Albany to enact gun legislation as cover for their money grab. Not if they wanted to get re-elected.
New York may already have some of the nation’s toughest gun laws, but there are more steps that could be taken that would help make us safer, including new limits on sales of assault-style weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, and stronger penalties for crimes involving guns.
In addition, Assembly Democrats want to require periodic reregistration of gun licenses, possibly once every five years. That would emulate some downstate localities, including New York City, which have such reregistration requirements.
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has made his support of stronger gun laws plain, pledging to use his vast wealth to back political candidates who support changing the laws.
But stronger state gun laws will do little to curb gun violence as long as weapons banned in New York are available a short ride down the interstate. To be effective, restrictions must be enacted at the national level. President Obama was quickly on board following the Newtown, Conn., school shootings that took the lives of 20 small children and six adults.
Congressional Democrats have been slow to react. That is, until NRA President Wayne LaPierre outrageously declared that, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The group’s call for a program to arm and train guards in schools is hardly the best way to protect children from gun violence. Blaming video games, the news media and lax law enforcement doesn’t work, either.
What will help are common-sense limits on assault-type weapons and large-capacity magazines, and better background checks before gun purchases. While it is certainly true that in a nation awash in guns these changes would have little immediate impact, a first step must be taken now. Such limits would do little to inconvenience sportsmen but could reduce the death toll in future massacres.
Helping the president, governors and mayors attempting to legislate stronger controls over the most-dangerous weapons is the clear path forward.