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New York Governor Responds To Trump Speech On Mass Killings

ALBANY, NY (WSKG) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on Congress to take immediate action on gun control in the wake of the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, mass shootings over the weekend.

Cuomo appeared on several television and radio shows, including on Albany public radio station WAMC, where he said Democrats need to speak in a unified voice about the need to ban assault weapons, strengthen background checks and take other steps to keep guns out of the hands of domestic terrorists.

“Let’s see if we can have an election that makes a positive difference and get the Democrats to sign onto one set of proposals,” Cuomo said to host Alan Chartock. “So the public is not confused with this Chinese menu of options. Here is the Democratic bill. Senate, Congress, and the presidential nominees all on the same page.

"And say to this president and the Republican congressional people and senators: 'Here is our position.' And let the American people choose.”

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for Congress to end summer recess and return immediately to Washington to act on gun control measures, including one to enact universal background checks that was approved by the House earlier this year.

President Donald Trump, in remarks to the nation Monday morning, condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” and said the nation stands unified against the shooting incidents.

Cuomo called the speech one of the “great acts of hypocrisy,” saying the president has “made racism his stock and trade” through his prior remarks and tweets.

Trump supports the death penalty for those who commit mass murder, and he says the United States should enact what’s known as a red flag warning measure. It permits a judge to order the removal of a person’s weapons if they are determined to present a danger to themselves or others.

But the president stopped short of advocating for a ban on assault-style weapons, saying “mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun."

Cuomo took issue with that.

“The gun had the trigger. The gun is the trigger,” Cuomo said. “Yes, hate is the problem, and mental illness is the problem. But the instrumentality of that hate is the gun, and it's both elements that have to be addressed.”

Cuomo said that under his urging, the New York State Legislature enacted strict gun control measures six years ago, in the wake of the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, school shooting. Assault-style weapons are illegal in New York. He said the laws have not hampered the rights of the state’s gun owners and hunters.

“No legal owner has been deprived of a gun,” Cuomo said. “None of these fears that paralyze the debate were realized.”

Earlier this year, lawmakers enacted a red flag law for New York.  Last week, the governor signed into law a number of additional gun control measures, including imposing penalties against gun owners who live with children younger than 16 if they don’t keep their weapons locked up.

Another measure requires that a purchaser wait up to 30 days to buy a gun if there is something in their past that warrants a more thorough background check.