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Debate over gun control continues

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Albany/HV: Debate over gun control continues
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Gun control legislation will likely be a major topic of Governor Cuomo’s State of state address next week. On Friday, the Governor met with a key group of Senators to discuss a bill on the issue. Nick Reisman has details.

With five days to go before Governor Andrew Cuomo gives his third State of the State address, new pressure is being applied for gun control legislation in the wake of a spate of deadly shootings last year.

Cuomo met with the five senators of the Independent Democratic Conference Friday on the issue.

"I’m going to discuss it with my Republican colleagues - especially Senator Skelos - and we’ll see where it takes us. But I think we agree and everyone else agrees, that we need to do something about both assault weapons as well as illegal guns," said Sen. Jeff Klein, (D), Bronx.

Privately, Cuomo pushed for a special session on gun control at the end of December, but no agreement could be reached. Now he wants to push lawmakers to back a new assault weapons ban, as well as new restrictions on high-capacity magazines.

IDC Leader Jeff Klein says there's no firm agreement yet.

"I don't know about any agreements, I know the Senate Independent Democratic Conference is wholeheartedly in support of tough gun control measures."

The meeting between Cuomo and IDC was an event the Governor's office clearly wanted to call attention to as administration sources alerted reporters that it was happening. It all appeared designed to pressure Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos to back the legislation.

In response, Skelos released a statement calling for a strengthening of Kendra's Law, which would close loopholes ensuring the violently mentally ill are hospitalized.

That throws action back to the Democratic-led Assembly, which supports gun control laws, but has stalled on the changes to Kendra's Law. Not expected to be in the Governor's gun control agenda meanwhile is microstamping of bullet casings, which was blocked by Republicans in the Senate.

"I support microstamping. I think it's highly improbable at this point you would get agreement on it," Cuomo said earlier this week.

Nevertheless, Cuomo is eager to pass some form of gun control this month.

"I think after all of these incidents, I don't know if you could bring any more urgency. Could you bring more urgency after what happened in Connecticut? Everyone of them just points to the immediate urgency."

As for Skelos, he indicated last month that he's willing to work with Cuomo and Democrats in Albany to broker some compromises.

"The governor has the right to point out what's priority. We have our priorities, but we've shown again that we've been able to work together and resolve many of our difference," Skelos said.

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