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Local News

January 8, 2013

Divide emerges in Albany over guns

Proposals by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Assembly Democrats to ban assault weapons appear to be facing an uphill climb, with state Senate Republicans signaling they are more interested in sealing cracks in the mental health system and toughening punishment for using guns illegally.

“Just going with a simple ban would not solve the problem,” Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, told The Daily Star on Monday. “The problem is much deeper than that. When you go down the road of a ban, it all depends on what the definitions are and what firearms are covered.”

Citing the Christmas Eve killings of two volunteer firefighters from Monroe County by a paroled killer who did prison time for murdering his grandmother with a hammer, Seward said that individual would never have killed again if he had been kept in prison for the slaying.

Seward said he would support “coming down tougher on the illegal use of any firearm.”

In Albany on Monday, Cuomo took a slap at the Republican package billed as the GOP’s response to the Monroe County killings and the recent massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.

“It misses the mark, pardon the pun, to put out a plan that doesn’t ban assault weapons, with what we’ve seen,” the governor told reporters.

Seward said he will be “all ears” Wednesday when Cuomo is expected to detail his gun-crackdown plan in the annual State of the State speech.

“It all depends on what the definitions are — what firearms are covered,” he said. “That’s what we need a lot more detail on.”

Democrats in the Assembly and Senate traded jabs with Republicans in Albany as the two sides prepared for what is expected to be strident debate following the Newtown and Webster violence that gun-control advocates say had a common denominator: a Bushmaster .223 semi-automatic rifle manufacturer in nearby Herkimer County.

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