One would think the mayor of the second-largest city in New York State would have more to say on the new gun control legislation championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
That is, unless said mayor is more interested in currying political favor from a political party with slim numbers in his city. Such appears to be the sad case when it comes to Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, who has yet to state his unequivocal support for the legislation.
That stand is in contrast to New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s full-throated support of Cuomo’s NY SAFE Act. Or, the support of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster, who endorsed many aspects of the bill. Or, that of Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner, who didn’t flinch when it came to her strong support for the legislation.
When talking to a News reporter last week, Brown would not discuss some of the law’s key provisions. Brown later told The News editorial board only that he supports the governor’s legislation. “This is a bill that is law in New York State. I’m not a state legislator. I had no vote on it. The law is already the law. I am the chief executive officer of the City of Buffalo and I have an obligation to enforce the law.”
All those statements are true, but they don’t say specifically whether Brown supports the stronger ban on assault weapons. He did say that he has some concerns – one having to do with the point that in the reduction of magazine capacity, there is no exemption for law enforcement.
Generally, he will talk about such poll-tested topics as additional background checks for detection of mental health problems, extension of Kendra’s Law, which reviews the record of mental patients before release from treatment, and the Webster Law provision that mandates tougher penalties for attacks on public safety personnel.
It is the politically safe route for a mayor who is up for re-election this year and is expected to seek the endorsement of the Conservative Party, which strongly opposes Cuomo’s legislation.
Perhaps Brown – who won 643 Conservative votes back in 2009 – is overly concerned, although he says he’s not, with the 1,200 Conservatives in Buffalo. Erie County Conservative Party Chairman Ralph C. Lorigo said the party has no “line in the sand” on the gun issue.
In his two terms as mayor, Brown has been extremely proactive in attempts to get illegal guns off the streets. The city has gun buyback programs and a police mobile response unit that targets guns and drugs, and participates in a strike force aiming at guns in conjunction with the Erie County Sheriff’s Office and State Police.
He is an original member of Bloomberg’s Mayor’s Coalition Against Illegal Guns.
Given his efforts to eradicate illegal guns, Brown’s equivocating on the major aspects of the governor’s legislation makes no practical sense. It barely makes political sense.