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Albany Democrats push gun-safety laws with renewed vigor

By Glenn Blain

ALBANY – Democrats in the state Legislature put aside their differences Tuesday to call for stricter gun laws.

More than a dozen Democratic members of the Assembly and Senate – including members of the Senate’s mainline Democratic Conference and their bitter rivals the Independent Democratic Conference – came together at a Capitol press conference to urge the adoption of several bills to strengthen background checks and implement other measures intended to reduce gun violence.

“We are here to deliver a clear message: enough is enough,” said Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan), chairman of New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention.

The bills pushed by the group include measures that would extend the time allowed for background checks on gun purchasers from three days to 10, ban so-called bump stocks, require safe storage of firearms and force individuals convicted of domestic violence charges to surrender their weapons.

Most of the bills have been circulating in the Legislature for at least a year, but their supporters believe the massacre of 17 high school students in Florida earlier this month has given new momentum to get at least some of the measures approved.

“The more we can do, the more lives we are going to save,” said Senate Deputy Minority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens).

“Here in New York we can move the ball forward,” added Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference and the sponsor of Nicholas’s Law, which makes it a crime to fail to securely store a weapon and prevent unauthorized use.

The press conference came as one of the group’s top priorities cleared a key Assembly committee and gained an influential supporter.

A bill that would allow judges to issue so-called Extreme Risk Protection Orders that would block individuals deemed likely to harm themselves or others from possessing or purchasing guns was approved by the Assembly Codes Committee and is likely to be approved by the full Assembly in the coming days.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called for passage of the bill.

“There are no more excuses for delay,” Schneiderman said. “Protective orders can’t prevent every senseless tragedy, but they are a necessary step in the right direction.”

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) did not respond to a request for comment on the proposed legislation.

A spokesman for Gov. Cuomo stopped short of supporting the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill.

“The governor enacted the toughest gun safety laws in the nation after Sandy Hook and we continue to review additional ways, including this bill and others, to strengthen and enhance those laws,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi.

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