New York Governor Andrew 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 with every cell in my body is to help my daughter.”
The governor, who is seeking reelection, 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 not agreed to the bill so far. 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 conceded a few days ago that the bill is not likely to become law this year.
“The Republican position does not support the bill,” Cuomo said.
At 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 position,” 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 would make 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 Assembly to sign on to the Republicans' 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.”