As the U.S. Congress debates gun control legislation, two of the countries’ leading advocates on the issue–Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Michael Bloomberg–held a City Hall press conference today to pressure federal lawmakers to have enough “courage” to vote in favor of the bill when it hits the floor. Standing behind victims’ family members from last year’s massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, Mr. Biden and Mr. Bloomberg argued the measures being proposed are neither controversial or unconstitutional.
“There’s not one single thing being proposed–not one, not one , not one, not one–that infringes on anyone’s Second Amendment constitutional right. Not one,” Mr. Biden said. “Three months ago, a deranged man walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School with a weapon of war. That’s what he walked in with–a weapon of war. That weapon of war has no place on American streets and taking it off American streets has no impact on one’s constitutional right to own a weapon.”
Earlier this morning, Democratic lawmakers gathered in Washington D.C. to unveil the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013, which is legislation that would ban “military-style” assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. The press conference announcing the bill featured New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, the legislation’s House sponsor, as its first speaker. Needless to say, Ms. McCarthy–whose husband was killed in a 1993 shooting spree on the Long Island Rail Road–made it clear it wasn’t going to be a speech that stuck to the script.
“This battle has been a very lonely battle for many, many years,” Ms. McCarthy began. “You know, a lot of words can be said. I’ve got a great speech here and my staff worked on it a long time and I’m probably going to do what they always tell me not to do. That means just talk from my heart.”
Ms. McCarthy expressed particular frustration that gun control legislation has stalled in Congress but argued that the recent massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school would be the catalyst for change.
New York Post columnist Fred Dicker, who’s normally a big fan of Andrew Cuomo, has blasted the governor in recent days for rushing through a gun control bill at the beginning of Albany’s 2013 legislative session. This morning, the two of them faced off in a fiery back-and-forth on Mr. Dicker’s radio show, where the host argued it was an unusually “divisive” piece of legislation.
“This bill takes peoples’ rights away. Now, it may be a minority, but it is a substantial minority. And a great many people are upset about that, as you know. And if you think about it, I don’t know if you can recall a time in your lifetime, where a law was passed that took away your rights,” Mr. Dicker contended. “For many of these gun-owning people, as you know, this is about our Constitution, our founding fathers, many of them are people of great principle. They love our country and they see themselves as under attack. Are you aware of that kind of deep-seated feel and what do you say to people who have that kind of sentiment?”
Over the weekend, Republicans in the New York State Senate rolled out a plan to address gun laws, which received criticism from Democrats due to its focus on increasing penalties for illegal guns rather than restricting access to assault weapons. A spokesman for Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly shot it down, however, and Mr. Cuomo reiterated his position that the Republicans’ policy proposals are a non-starter at a press conference this morning.
“I don’t think their plan goes far enough,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I think it misses the mark, pardon the pun, to put out a plan that doesn’t ban an assault weapon with what we’ve seen.”