Negotiations over changes to the state’s gun laws have continued throughout the day, but it’s unclear whether an agreement can be struck before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State tomorrow.
Senate Republican Deputy Leader Tom Libous, R-Binghamton, met with Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein this morning, according to Libous. The two discussed a number of issues, including “guns and some other issues moving forward, and some internal, organizational things that we’ll have to do moving forward.”
While Klein and Cuomo have called specifically for a stronger ban on assault weapons in New York, the Senate GOP put out a plan over the weekend that focused on increasing penalties for gun crimes and possession of illegal firearms. (Cuomo said Monday the GOP plan “misses the mark.)
Libous said Tuesday that reform of the gun laws must look at a broad range of issues.
“What really has to happen is you have to do a complex approach and look at increasing penalties for criminals who use guns in the commission of a crime, using illegal guns. Obviously, we have to look at different registries,” Libous said. “There’s a whole host of things that need to be looked at. Just saying ‘an assault-weapons ban’ is the simple answer. And I’m not saying that it won’t be part of something and some sort of a ban won’t be a part, but this issue is much too complex to just call it an assault-weapons ban.”
When asked whether the Senate GOP is open to making any changes to the state’s current ban, Libous said negotiations are continuing.
“We have one of the toughest in the country right now. People need to understand that,” he said. “That certainly doesn’t mean we’re not open to discussion and I think—I don’t think, I know those discussions have been taking place.”
“It’s a very complex issue and I think before we jump to any specific conclusions for what you’re going to ban or what you’re going to limit, we’ll continue to have those discussions. I’ve had those discussions with Senator Klein today and our conference will continue to have those discussions with the second floor.”
Libous said differences of opinion on gun legislation wouldn’t be an issue for the newly formed partnership between the Senate Republicans and the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference. The two groups will share power over the chamber when they gavel back into session tomorrow.
“The Democrats in this state—the majority of them, at least in the Senate—continue to want to talk about how the coalition is not going to work,” Libous said. “I’ve got news for them: We’re going to show them how it is going to work and it’s going to be historic.”