New York: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, thought to be considering a run for the US presidency in 2016, took aim at gun proponents nationwide in his annual State of the State address, calling on state lawmakers to lead the nation by passing the toughest assault weapons ban in America.
"No one hunts with an assault rifle! No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer! End the madness now!" Cuomo said Wednesday, his voice reaching a fever pitch before a packed crowd in the state capital of Albany.
He mentioned the Dec 14 elementary school massacre that claimed the lives of 20 young children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, and a Christmas Eve ambush shooting that left two volunteer firefighters dead in Webster, New York, imploring legislators to set an example.
"There have been far too many lives claimed as a result of gun violence in recent years, from Columbine, to Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown, and Webster. The time has come to make New York safer and once again lead the way for other states to follow," he said.
Cuomo unveiled a six-point plan to cut gun violence that included:
- A ban on assault weapons - Although the state has a ban on assault weapons already, it is riddled with loopholes, said the governor's office in a statement.
- Background checks for private gun sales - The current state law requires such checks when guns are sold through dealers or at gun shows, in an effort to prevent gun sales to criminals or people who are mentally ill, but no such checks are required for private sales.
- Enhanced penalties - Cuomo said he wants stiffer penalties for people who buy guns illegally, use them on school property, or use them in violent, drug-related gang activity.
- Reporting by mental health professionals - When a mental health professional determines that a gun owner is likely to harm themselves or others, that risk could be reported and the gun removed.