By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Is the state’s tough new gun control bill the opening salvo in the 2016 presidential campaign? Mike Long thinks so.
Long, the Bay Ridge resident who is chairman of the New York State Conservative Party, charged that the bill being pushed, and now passed, by Governor Andrew Cuomo is nothing more than political maneuvering on the governor’s part.
“This bill does nothing to save lives. This is just political theater by Andrew Cuomo who wanted to get a bill passed so he could be the first in the country and be ahead of Joe Biden," Long said. “Joe Biden is going to be his opponent for the Democratic nomination in 2016,” Long added.
On Monday night, the state senate passed the bill Cuomo had been pushing. The assembly passed the bill Tuesday afternoon. New York State already had some of the toughest gun control laws in the country. The new bill will raise that bar even higher.
Among other things, the bill will extend the ban on assault weapons to include more types of weapons, the New York Times reported, and will place additional restrictions on gun owners. The bill will also keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
Long said that while he agreed with the mental health aspects of the legislation, he believes that the bill punishes those who buy guns legally. “Here in New York, we didn’t have an assault weapons problem. We have a law enforcement problem,” he said.
As an example, Long pointed to the case of William Spengler, the man who deliberately set fire to his upstate New York house and killed two firefighters when they arrived to put out the blaze on Dec. 24. He also killed himself. CNN reported that Spengler had killed before. “He killed his grandmother with a hammer. Why was a guy like that let out of jail?” Long asked.
The new bill misses the mark, according to Long. “What we don’t need to do is punish people who own guns who are sportsmen, hunters, or marksmen. There’s no need to take their freedom and liberty away,” he said.
“Look, everybody’s heart was broken after Newtown. But this approach is misdirected,” Long said.
Republicans in the state legislature, many of whom won their seats with Conservative Party support, may be sorry when the next election rolls around, Long said. “A lot of gun owners are single minded voters. They’ll vote against someone who takes away their rights,” he said.
After the bill was passed in the senate, Cuomo issued a statement. “Tonight, the senators that voted for the NY SAFE Act of 2013 made a bold statement, coming together in a bipartisan, collaborative manner to meet the challenges that face our state and our nation, as we have seen far too many senseless acts of gun violence,” he stated.