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Cuomo pushes gun safety measure stalled in the legislature

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is riding a school bus across parts of the state to push anti-gun legislation

Gov. Cuomo has begun a statewide tour to promote a bill to give teachers and school administrators the power to go to court and ask a judge to confiscate the guns of a student and their family, if they suspect the student might try to harm themselves or others.

Cuomo, speaking outside a high school in the Bronx,  made a personal connection to his bill, which would permit teachers, school administrators , and – parents- to seek help from the courts if they believe a child is mentally ill and should not have access to guns.

“I have three daughters,” Cuomo said. “If I knew one of them had a mental health issue and that maybe she could get a gun and take her own life or hurt others, the first thing I would want to do  every cell in my body is to help my daughter.”

Cuomo, who is seeking re election,  is highlighting the issue in a political ad released this week.

While the governor also appeared on Long Island to promote the bill, he did not come to the Capitol in Albany where the legislature is meeting in the final days of the legislative session.

Democrats who lead the state Assembly are in favor of the measure, but Republicans who are in charge of the state Senate have so far not agreed to the bill. Even though Republicans are still in control in the Senate, one of their members has left to rejoin the military, and the GOP and Democratic factions are currently gridlocked at 31- 31.

Cuomo, a few days ago, conceded that the bill is likely not going to become law this year.

“The Republican position does not support the bill,” Cuomo said.

In the Monday event in the Bronx , the governor berated politicians who might oppose the measure, and threatened retribution at the polls.

“Either the politicians change their positon,” said Cuomo. “Or this student movement, this populist movement will change the politicians this Election Day.”

Senate Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan said, in a statement, that his members already support a comprehensive school safety package that makes it easier for schools to hire armed guards, known as school resource officers, and to spend more state funds on mental health treatment for students. Flanagan urged Cuomo and the State Assembly to sign on to the Republican’s bill instead.

Any school safety plan passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor must be real and it must be significant,” Flanagan said. “Ensuring the safety of New York's schoolchildren is our most important priority.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.