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Cuomo responds to Trump speech on mass shootings

WBFO file photo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling on Congress to take immediate action on gun control in the wake of the El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio mass shootings over the weekend.

Cuomo appeared on several television and radio shows, including on Albany public radio station WAMC, where he said Democrats need to speak in one unified voice about the need to ban assault weapons, strengthen background checks and take other steps to keep guns out of the hands of domestic terrorists.

“Let’s see if we can have an election that makes a positive difference and get the Democrats to sign onto one set of proposals. So, the public is not confused with this Chinese menu set of options. Here is the Democratic bill. Senate, Congress, and the presidential nominees all on the same page,” Cuomo said to host Alan Chartock. “And say to this President and the Republicans in Congress and the Senate here is our position. And let the American people choose.”

U. S. Senator from New York and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for Congress to end summer recess and return immediately to Washington to act on gun control measures, including one to enact universal background checks, approved by the House earlier this year.  

President (Donald) Trump, in his remarks to the nation Monday morning, condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” and said the nation stands unified against the shooting incidents.    

Cuomo calls the speech one of the “great acts of hypocrisy,” saying the President has “made racism his stock and trade," through his prior remarks and tweets.

Trump supports the death penalty for those who commit mass murder, and he says the US should enact what’s known as a red flag warning measure. It permits a judge to order removal of person’s weapons if they are determined to present a danger to themselves or others. But he stopped short of advocating for a ban on assault style weapons, saying “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun."

Cuomo takes issue with that.

"The gun had the trigger. The gun is the trigger,” Cuomo said. “ Yes, hate is the problem and mental illness is the problem. But, the instrumentality of that hate is the gun and it's both elements that have to be addressed.”

Cuomo says that, under his urging the New York State legislature enacted strict gun control measures six years ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook, Connecticut school shooting. Assault style weapons are illegal in New York. He says the laws have not hampered the rights of the state’s gun owners and hunters.

“No legal owner has been deprived of a gun,” Cuomo said.  "None of these fears that paralyze the debate were realized.” 

Earlier this year, lawmakers enacted a red flag law for New York.  Last week, the governor signed into law a number of additional gun control measures, including imposing penalties against gun owners, who live with children younger than 16 if they don’t keep their weapons locked up. Another measure requires that a purchaser wait up to 30 days to buy a gun if there is something in their past that warrants a more thorough background check. 

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.