Niagara Gazette — It's impressive that New York is the first state to adopt gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.
If you're wondering about the urgency to act on the measure, it's because Gov. Andrew Cuomo was apparently determined to capture national headlines. In fact, it is common knowledge that Cuomo was in a race to announce the signing of the sweeping gun-control measures before President Obama had a chance to disclose his plan Wednesday. The governor, already touted in some quarters as a possible presidential candidate in 2016, won the race on the legislation.
On the homefront, neither state Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, nor Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, voted for the bill. Obviously, they're not in that inner circle of lawmakers — especially Republicans — that Cuomo praised for standing up to the extremists like the National Rifle Association that has staunchly opposed the new law.
For months, Maziarz and Ceretto have been among the GOP lawmakers establishing a cozy relationship with Cuomo, a Democrat. At one point, it even reached the hugging stage, as television footage from the chamber in Albany proved.
This time around, there's no reason for Cuomo to be upset with any lawmakers who didn't support the gun-control bill because it was overwhelmingly approved in the Senate, 43-18, and well as in the Assembly, 104-43.
There's no question that the new law, known as NY SAFE (for New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act) is a concerted effort to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them in the first place (e.g. the mentally ill).
Amidst the rush to push through the legislation, Cuomo chose to circumvent the "aging process" which calls for a three-day waiting period between the time the bill is introduced and when it is brought to a floor vote. The governor claimed it was an urgent matter and that any delay would only result in more panic buying of guns before further restrictions were in place. That was hardly a valid excuse for railroading an important piece of legislation. The sharp uptick in gun sales had been under way for several weeks and three more days would not have made any difference, a number of lawmakers said.
The expeditious manner in which the gun-control bill was handled raises concern about Cuomo's repeated promises for more transparency in state government.
"It's an abuse of power," said Assemblyman Steven McLaughlin, a Republican whose 107th District includes the Capitol Region. He said Cuomo's strategy of "jaming the significant legislation through under the cover of darkness" was insulting to 19 million New Yorkers who deserved the three-day period for honest, open and fair debate about which direction we're going to go."
He added: "I would like as a representative of my district to be shown the respect that my constituents deserve and to give us the time to we need to digest this bill and debate it on the floor." The lawmaker said the 11th hour scurryng around reminded him of the proposed federal health care bill when Rep. Nancy Pelosi (the House minority leader) said, "We have to pass it to see what's in it. I'd rather like to see what's in it (gun-control bill) before I vote."
Any way you view it, that late-night session on Capitol Hill left a lot of Empire State residents asking where the transparency was.
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