Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York indulged in the annual right of passage afforded a state executive and delivered his “State of the State” address this afternoon to a crowd of legislators, journalists and politicos in Albany. Just last month he wrote an op-ed for the Times Union outlining his “litmus test” of ten issues the legislature should tackle this year, ranging from education reform and protecting a woman’s right to choose to raising the state minimum wage and campaign finance reform.cuomo-podium

These issues have been topics of discussion for the past year in Albany, but ultimately glimmers of progress became few and far in between as the election in November loomed and legislators became increasingly concerned with retaining their seats. But while all of the policy initiatives outlined by the Governor deserve to be accorded time and energy by legislators, the press and advocacy organizations, there is one issue that has skyrocketed to the top of the list.

New York is one of seven states with a state assault weapon ban and it remains one of the strictest in the country. After the shooting at Columbine in 1999, Governor George Pataki pushed gun control reforms through the state legislature, much to the surprise of some of his Republican colleagues. Now, Governor Cuomo is continuing New York’s tradition of protecting its citizens with his plan to reform the state’s gun control policy.

Governor Cuomo’s plan is all-encompassing and it will be intriguing to see what the Assembly and Senate can agree upon and realistically pass. Here are some of the wide-ranging ideas the Governor is proposing:

  • A tougher state assault weapons ban;
  • A more efficient system and a new state standard for firearm licenses rather than the current county by county system;
  • Background checks for all gun sales, including between two private parties;
  • A system for mental health professionals to report those who might pose a risk to themselves or others—and subsequent inquiry into those reported who have been issued a firearm license;
  • Enhanced penalties for the following infractions: the illegal purchase of guns and the use of firearms on school property.

So, today was Governor Cuomo’s chance to tell New York what he wants to accomplish this year. It is now up to New Yorkers to evaluate and dissect the Governor’s legislative priorities and to reach out to their Assembly and Senate members with their thoughts. Reform Jewish Voice of New York State will be doing the same and you can help us take the message of the Reform Movement to Albany!

Join us on Monday, May 6, 2013 for our annual Advocacy Day to learn how to be an advocate in Albany and in your community and meet with your state legislators to tell them why some of the issues Governor Cuomo discussed are important to you and to our Movement.

Governor Cuomo had his turn—now it’s ours.