Gun Measure Passes Senate; Assembly Approval Expected
New York's Senate -- where Republicans hold strong sway -- has approved what supporters say will be the toughest gun laws in the nation.
The Democrat-led Assembly gaveled out before midnight Monday night and will take up landmark gun control on Tuesday morning.
The measure is expected to easily pass the Assembly when it convenes Tuesday at 10 a.m.
Meanwhile, the north country's legislative delegation is divided on the issue.
In a statement, Sen. Patty Ritchie said she supports some provisions of the bill, but not the entire package.
"I support the provisions of this plan that strengthen our laws against criminal use of firearms, and especially, the inclusion of my “Mark’s Law” proposal.
"Mark's Law," originally sponsored by Ritchie, increases penalties for murdering first responders.
In the end, Ritchie voted against the bill, saying "attempts to restrict legal ownership and possession of firearms from responsible sportsmen -- rather than focusing on criminals -- will not enhance the safety of our communities."
She said the bill "deprives law-abiding citizens of an important right under the Constitution of the United States."
Sen. Joe Griffo also voted against the measure, even though there were parts of it he supported.
"Despite the provisions I support, there were far too many pieces in the bill that punish law-abiding citizens," he said.
"I have spoken out before about the tactic of lumping unrelated legislation into one bill as part of the horse-trading that goes on to secure passage of a bill," he said.
"We should vote ideas up or down on their merits, not combine them into one bill," Griffo said. "The fact that this legislation had provisions that I have sponsored and supported in the past made my vote even more difficult."
A spokesperson for Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush says Blankenbush will vote no on the gun control legislation, even though it contains "Mark's Law," something he supports.
Assemblywoman Addie Russell says she will vote yes.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who called for stiffer gun control in his State of the State address said the Senate "made a bold statement, coming together in a bipartisan, collaborative manner to meet the challenges that face our state and our nation.
"We have seen far too many senseless acts of gun violence," he said.
The bill targets assault rifles, high-capacity clips of ammunition and requires reports of the mentally ill who pose a threat to others with illegal guns.
There would be also be mandatory background checks for people buying a gun privately and not through a dealer.
The vote passed 43-18 in the Senate thanks to a strong Democratic vote.
Thursday, January 29, 2015, Watertown, NY
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