Governor Andrew Cuomo, in yet another apparent attempt to distance himself from anything resembling a Democrat, has agreed to suspend his administration's plan to require background checks on gun ammunition sales. Indeed, that background check plan was part of a sweeping gun control package that the governor once touted as one of his greatest achievements, but hey, time and pressure from the Republican party can change a person.
The Times reports that the background check rollback stems from a deal reached between Cuomo's office and the State Senate’s Republican majority. A memo signed by one of Cuomo's top aides claims that the backgrounds were suspended thanks to a "lack of adequate technology," though state Democrats who supported the bill are calling foul. "On first read, this appears blatantly unconstitutional,” Senator Michael N. Gianaris of Queens said. “The notion that one house of the Legislature will have greater powers than another, and the governor, with one house only, can agree to change state law, turns our democracy on its head.”
The ammunition measure is part of the Safe Act, a major gun control legislation package that Cuomo signed into effect in January 2013. In addition to requiring "real time background checks of ammunition purchases in order to alert law enforcement of high volume buyers" and posing stricter regulations on mentally ill individuals attempting to purchase guns, the bill banned high capacity magazines and lethal assault weapons.
Cuomo bragged back then that the bill was "the most comprehensive package in the nation," but the legislation was widely opposed by the gun lobby, with the National Rifle Association dubbing it a "draconian" move that showed the State Legislature "cav[ing] to the political demands of a Governor and helped fuel his personal political aspirations." Now the pro-gun crowd seems pretty happy—"This is a clear victory for Second Amendment rights in New York," Republican State Senator James L. Seward said, with the NRA heralding the suspension as "a step in the right direction to restore a degree of sanity after the Safe Act’s over-the-top demonization of lawful New York gun owners."
Cuomo's office claims the Safe Act still remains in effect, despite the background check provision suspension.