January 10, 2013

Here’s yet another sign that gun control advocates are on the offensive: In his “State of the State,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a seven-step plan which he said he hopes will produce the “toughest assault weapon’s ban in the nation.”

This comes after President Obama promised significant action on guns before the end of the month; Attorney General Eric Holder has gotten directly involved in the push for more gun regulation; Gabrielle Giffords has formed a PAC devoted to support pro-gun control candidates; and the gun control forces began planning a massive public relations push on gun control.

Cuomo’s package is a collection of all the measures suggested by advocates in the weeks since Newtown. It involves an assault weapons ban, mandatory background checks for private sales, a ban on high-capacity magazines, “tougher penalties” for illegal gun use, banning guns from the mentally ill, banning ammunition sales on the Internet (within New York State lines), and creating a check on all ammunition purchases in the state.

Obviously, the goal of this push is greater public safety—when you measure firearm murders, New York falls near the middle of the country, with 4.12 per 100,000 people. That said, Cuomo’s initiative is on the left end of the gun control debate. The question is whether he can turn New York into a national example, which could impact the broader national conversation. As Cuomo himself put it:  “Let them look at New York and say this is what you can do. This is what you should do!”

Jamelle Bouie is a staff writer at The American Prospect, where he writes a blog.