Cuomo should hold firm on gun stance

Andrew Cuomo, as we all know, is a hard driving, focused strategist. This occasionally Machiavellian politician sometimes doesn’t stop to consider the consequences of his actions.

When it is appropriate, I have pointed some of those instances out. On the other hand, there are times when I really admire the man’s courage. His stance on gun control, for example, deserves our support. The reaction to his SAFE Act was immediate and dramatic.

A lot of Americans and New Yorkers, particularly upstate New Yorkers, love their guns. There are millions of guns out there. The right wing Republican-appointed majority of the Supreme Court of the United States has pacified this angry beast by affirming that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects their right to own their individual killing machines.

In fact, the gun culture is alive and well in the United States and as a result, we are witnessing one catastrophe after another. The right wing gun nuts say that they need their guns to fight the government when it comes after them. That may be so, but we continue to see one senseless gun crime after another with horrific results.

When the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School wiped out all of those beautiful children, it was more than Cuomo, who has his own kids, could bear. He used every tool at his disposal to push the SAFE Act through the Legislature and it was brutal. The result was that a few Republican Senators lost their seats. I think it was Cuomo’s finest moment.

As the bad news continues, Cuomo is now at a place where he throws up his hands and admits defeat. He knows, and says that he knows, that what we have is not a state problem but a national problem.

The gun runners transport guns from one state to another and sell them on the street to the very outlaws that people hate. Look, sooner or later people are going to have to make hard choices about the proliferation of guns in this country. There has to be recognition that at the very least, everyone who buys a gun must be subject to a background check.

It is far from a fix all but every life that is saved will be crucial. Frankly, I am still shaking my head that the Sandy Hook massacre of those innocent children wasn’t enough to reach the tipping point.

Governor Cuomo used a tremendous amount of his political capital to get his SAFE Act passed. I doubt that he can do much more than he did when he was at the height of his political popularity and his public opinion numbers were higher.

In fact, there are some indications that he is trying to assuage some of the angry gun owners who are so unhappy with him. But my advice to him is to continue to stand tall. My bet is that he will not be able to pull the gun people back over the line.

There are times when a politician’s moral compass has to be the guidance system. One of the reasons why Bernie Sanders is doing so unexpectedly well in his quest for the presidency is that he is unequivocal in not straying from those positions in which he believes.

On the contrary, Hillary Clinton is seen as more of a “politician” in the worst sense of the word. We just picture her sitting around a table with her advisors every day, adjusting her image and thinking out positions that will get them the most votes.

I truly believe that the American people have had enough of all of that. They want common sense. They want someone who speaks from the heart. When it comes to guns, Andrew Cuomo is doing just that. He needs to do it more and his polls will go up.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 9/12/15

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