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Cuomo wants presidential candidates to endorse NY's gun control laws

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is continuing to offer his views in the national debate about gun control. He's asking Democratic presidential candidates to endorse four gun control measures previously adopted in New York.

Cuomo made numerous appearances Wednesday on national and New York media, including WXXI public radio in Rochester. He outlined four proposals that have been law in the state for six years, including an assault weapons ban, a mental health database that prevents some mentally ill people from owning guns, and background checks to close a loophole that excludes private gun sales from the checks.

The list also includes an extreme risk protection act, also known as a red flag law, adopted in New York earlier this year, which permits a judge to order the confiscation of a person's firearms if they are deemed a potential threat to themselves or others.

"Today I'm calling on all the Democratic presidential candidates to adopt our laws, in essence," said Cuomo.

He said he will ask the candidates, when they come to the state during the primaries, to back his plan.

"When they come to New York, I'm going to ask them straight out, 'Do you support our laws?' " Cuomo said.

Earlier in the day, Cuomo was a guest on CNN, where he commented on an incident that occurred Tuesday night in Times Square in New York City. A backfiring motorcycle caused panic when some people in the crowded space thought it was a gunshot. Nearly two dozen people were injured in a stampede, and a Broadway show stopped in mid-performance.

Cuomo said what happened in New York is a "microcosm" of what's going on in the nation.

"People are obviously frightened, and they should be, with what they see in El Paso, Ohio, et cetera," Cuomo said. "I think they're more frightened by the governmental impotence that we're seeing where this is the same pattern, right? It's the definition of insanity."

Cuomo continued to call out President Donald Trump, for what he says is Trump's "hateful rhetoric."

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, appearing at an unrelated event in upstate Mechanicville, said the nation needs to rethink allowing the sale and possession of assault weapons.

"I really think the country should look again at the need for assault weapons," said Heastie.

He said the United States has many more gun deaths each year than in other industrialized nations: "We end up having more people dying by gun in a day than some of these countries have in a year."

Heastie said he thinks a national standard for background checks for gun buyers would help New York enforce its stricter background check procedures.

Later, in a statement, Heastie said he backs the governor's proposal for the presidential candidates.

"Where presidential candidates stand on national gun control will go a long way toward determining who I support for president," Heastie said.

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.