NY governor : stop the gun 'madness'
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday proposed the "toughest assault weapons ban in America" in response to a rash of shooting massacres, including the tragedy last month at a Connecticut school.
Cuomo, a possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, called for legislation in his annual "State of the State" address that would also ban high capacity magazines and seek to deprive the mentally ill of weapons.
"We must stop the madness, my friends," Cuomo said in the state capital, Albany.
"We need a gun policy that is reasonable and balanced and measured" and that would respect hunters and sportsmen, he said, adding that as a gun owner, he was not against firearms but wanted responsible limits on available weapons.
Cuomo launched his initiative as Vice President Joe Biden stepped up the pace of his effort to meet President Barack Obama's end-of-the-month deadline to frame policy on a national effort to stem gun violence.
"The president is going to act. There are executive orders, executive action that can be taken," Biden said, though he added no specific actions had yet been decided upon.
"The president and I are determined to take action. This is not an exercise in photo opportunities," Biden told reporters at the White House complex.
The legislative and executive actions the White House is considering include a reinstatement of a ban on assault weapons, closing loopholes on background checks for people buying guns and better mental health care.
Cuomo's seven-point plan would also introduce background checks for all gun sales between private parties, not just those between retailers, and introduce more stringent punishments for those who break gun laws.
Internet sales of ammunition would also be banned in New York.
"I know that the issue of gun control is hard. I know it's political. I know it's controversial but we are proposing today common sense measures," Cuomo said.
"No one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer and too many innocent people have died already. Make this state safer. Save lives. Set an example for the rest of the nation."
Biden spoke in Washington before meeting gun control advocacy organizations and victims of firearms violence.
On Thursday, he will talk to gun lobby groups, including the prominent National Rifle Association which has called for armed guards to be introduced in all US schools.
As pro- and anti- gun groups gird for a confrontation in Congress over Obama's vow to make attempts to cut firearms violence a priority of his second term, Biden also reflected on last month's carnage at the Connecticut school.
"I don't think anything has touched the heart of the American people so profoundly as learning of those young children not only being shot, but riddled with bullets," Biden said before Wednesday's meeting.
"Every once in a while, there's something that awakens the conscience of the country, and that tragic event did it in a way like nothing I've seen in my career," Biden said.
Obama gave Biden until late January to come up with policy recommendations after attending a moving vigil for the 20 children and six adults killed by a gunman spraying bullets from an assault rifle in Newtown on December 14.
Cuomo meanwhile also mentioned the killing of two firefighters by a gunman as they answered an emergency call in Webster, New York, on Christmas Eve.
New York state already has some of America's most strict gun laws. Assault weapons like the one used in Newtown are theoretically banned, but restrictions are full of loopholes.