Gun Control: Andrew Cuomo and New York Show Washington How It's Done

Earlier this week, survey results came out showing that Americans prefer root canals and head lice to Congress. It's no secret, that with an approval rating in the single digits, Congress is a place of gridlock and partisanship. As this dismal picture persists, New York’s state legislature, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, serves as a diamond in the rough for disillusioned citizens. 

In Cuomo’s State of the State address given on Wednesday, he presented his bold agenda for 2013. Like some other governors, his includes stricter gun control measures in the wake of a series of recent shootings across the country. Cuomo’s plan would include a ban on military-style weapons and high capacity magazines. The same restrictions will also likely be present in President Obama’s legislation. The catch: New York lawmakers on both sides have already agreed to this measure. Lawmakers in Washington have made it very clear that this type of deal will not be easily reached. Are we surprised? Read: Americans prefer the band Nickelback to Congress. 

The New York Times reported yesterday that there is "cautious optimism" among both sides that a deal will be reached in the coming week. Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was quoted as saying negotiators are "95% of the way" to an agreement. Across the aisle, state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said, "I think we can wrap this up pretty quickly." Words like these are like a sweet song amidst a constant unproductive buzz. Change is not easy to come by in Washington. Yes, the majority of Americans voted for change in 2008, but the gridlock was unable to be broken. 

It is a sad state of affairs nationally, but Cuomo and the New York legislature seem to be doing it right. Even the supporters of gun rights are sensible! The same cannot be said for representatives and senators at the federal level — some of whom advocate arming school teachers. These include Republicans from Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. New York state Senator Tom Libous (R-Binghamton) says that, although he supports gun rights, nobody needs an Army — or a Soviet-type weapon to go hunting with."

Most New York lawmakers seem to respect Governor Cuomo — a respect that is lost in Washington. Respect for the executive is important, and it goes a long way. Of course, New York is not without hurdles and disagreements in the legislature. Some of the disagreements regarding gun control legislation include what to do with assault-type weapons that are already legally owned, and what to set the capacity at for detachable ammunition magazines. The difference is they work through these obstacles and see results. 

Since taking office in January of 2011, Cuomo has led very productive legislative sessions. He closed the budget gap of $10 billion, and was a leader in recognizing gay marriage —with bipartisan support. His theory of effective politicking: “I reach out to everyone —the majority, the minority — anyone who will work with me, I will work with them.”

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Stephanie Northwood

Pursuing BA in Political Science at Allegheny College, to graduate in May 2013, most interested in health and foreign policy, Progressive.

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