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Release: Cuomo Youtube video, WNYC transcript, statement on 'March for Our Lives' anti-gun protest.

Text of releases.

For Immediate Release: 3/24/2018


Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo marched in the March for Our Lives in New York City.

VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

A rush transcript of Governor Cuomo's remarks is available below.

Governor Cuomo: Today says, we're not taking it anymore and the NRA is not going to win the day. The people of the United States are going to win the day and common sense is going to win the day. And there's a spirit of youth, an activism from the youth and when you look political change normally comes from the young people. You know, older people they become more complacent, more accepting. What this generation is saying is we saw Florida, we understand the facts, and it makes no sense. It makes no sense to defy the reality that we all understand. And they're angry at Washington and they're angry at the lack of leadership, and they should be. And they're saying if you won't lead we will lead.


For Immediate Release: 3/1/2018


Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on WNYC with Brian Lehrer to discuss gun safety. Last week, the Governor announced with Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, the formation of the new "States for Gun Safety" coalition to combat gun violence. In the face of repeated federal inaction, the coalition will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to better share information and tackle this devastating epidemic through a comprehensive, regional approach. More information is available here.

A rush transcript of the interview is available below.

Brian Lehrer: Good morning again everyone and Governor Cuomo joins us for a few minutes now with the country newly debating and maybe even Donald Trump getting serious about gun safety laws. I said maybe. Remember that after Newtown, five years ago, New York State did ban assault weapons and large capacity magazines and made background checks universal. But even here, the state legislature is apparently stuck on tightening the law even more. Governor Cuomo is definitely a part of the national conversation on this and he joins us now. Governor, thank you so much for a few minutes today. Welcome back to WNYC.

Governor Cuomo: Good to be back. Good morning to you, Brian.

Brian Lehrer: You got the SAFE Act passed in 2013. What do you see as your role in the gun debate today?

Governor Cuomo: You know Brian, I think as someone who's spent most of his adult life in public service trying to make change, change comes at moments in time when people demand it. We like to think that political leaders step up and lead the way. What all too often happens is the people lead and the politicians follow and you are at a moment in time where people are demanding change. I mean every poll says that. You have stores like Dick's, Walmart saying it. And what I want to stress is the change we make should be meaningful. The politicians are feeling the political heat, and their instinct is to pander to the heat. The suggestions they're making for reforms are incremental at best. Raise the age from 18 to 21. That would affect something like 13 percent of the mass shootings that have happened over the past 50 years. Bump stocks, ban bump stocks, it's another incremental change. We need real gun reform and now's a moment to do it and we should not allow the national Republicans to frame the discussion around incremental change. We know what we did in this state after Sandy Hook. Real gun reform. You need a real background check for everyone. Close the gun show loophole, private sales. You need a real mental health database. You need a real red flag bill so that if someone's mentally ill, you can go to law enforcement and they can do an investigation. And you need to ban assault weapons. Those are reforms that will make a change, not just score political points because now the politicians are feeling heat.

Brian Lehrer: I'm sure you heard Senator Rubio talk about the New York law during the CNN Town Hall with the Parkland survivors. Here's a little bit of what he said in response to a parent's question about an assault weapons ban:

Senator Rubio: So in New York they passed that ban. And you know what they've done to get right around it and took them 15 seconds to do it? They simply take the plastic tip off. They take the plastic grip off the front or the back. Same gun and it becomes legal. Performs the exact same way.

Brian Lehrer: Do you know what he's talking about there with the plastic tip?

Governor Cuomo: No, but more importantly, he doesn't know what he's talking about. Assault weapons are banned. Now, if you change the assault weapon so it's no longer an assault weapon, it's a different story, but assault weapons are banned. They're afraid to go near the assault weapon ban. Republicans and Democrats, by the way, because it is a lightning rod for the NRA and for gun owners. It's not just the NRA, Brian, it's gun owners. So they won't do an assault weapon ban. They won't really close the loopholes on the background checks because it would mean you would have to close gun show loopholes and private sales. What happens now is someone walks into a store, they can't pass a background check. The store says no. They go to a gun show where they buy it privately and they get a gun. So they are avoiding the reforms that are real and what I want to see is the Democrats put a real bill on the table which will expose the incremental pandering of the Republicans.

Brian Lehrer: This is WNYC FM HDNA in New York. WNJT-FM 88.1 Trenton. WNJP 88.5 Sussex. WNJY 89.3 Netcong and WNJO 90.3 Toms River. We are New York and New Jersey public radio. Governor Cuomo with us right now. Governor, you just talked about changing not the NRA but gun owners. Trump, though he didn't come close to winning New York State, he won a lot of counties in New York State, and do you think you have to change the culture of even a lot of New Yorkers who might have voted for Trump for that reason?

Governor Cuomo: That's a good question, Brian, and let's be totally frank. The reason why the politicians are afraid of this issue is you pay a very heavy political price. When we say the NRA, it's not just the NRA. It is a very strong gun owner culture. I passed the SAFE Act in New York after Sandy Hook because it was another moment in time after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut and we passed the best gun law in the country. It hurt me politically. It cost me support. I still have the scars to prove it. That's why they're afraid of it. And yes, you have parts of rural New York that are reflective of rural America. You have gun owners in New York who want to see no changes on the quote unquote slippery slope argument. If you have any control it'll wind up being confiscated. I think the New York law by the way proved the opposite. We passed that law five years ago. No guns were confiscated, no hunter's rights were imposed upon, but I paid a very heavy political price and I'm proud of the scars. If you get it not this business just to avoid controversy, you're in the wrong business. You're in this business to make changes and sometimes the changes aren't popular and if you are afraid of the political ramifications, then get out of the business. The business is to lead. And that's why I want to see the national Democrats put a real bill on the table.

Brian Lehrer: Now, even as we're talking about this at the national level and even with the SAFE Act in New York State, the debate here is not over. As I'm sure you know, yesterday, the Democrats in the state senate put forward new gun regulation proposals, led by the Democratic State Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. As I understand it, it is four separate bills - a ban on bump stocks, a longer window for background checks, red flag orders of protect, and also gun research. And you're getting some criticism for not getting there to be active as the state senate Republicans blocked those measures yesterday. What's your role in that?

Governor Cuomo: Well I'm not senator. And I support more protection for New York on gun laws. There's no doubt about that, but the main thrust here is, we already have the best gun laws in the country. A state by definition cannot handle this issue because the guns come in over the border. We last week announced a multi-state coalition where regional states are going to get together and share information and share data, so the borders between New York and New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island, Massachusetts just joined. So we have a regional compact among states that will give us more protection. But as long as somebody can buy a gun from South Carolina and get in a car and drive to New York, you're never going to solve this problem without federal rules.

Brian Lehrer: Sure. But nonetheless, if they're debating in the state senate a ban on bump stocks, a longer window for background checks, red flag orders, and I think easier steps to actually seize guns from people, and the state Senate Republicans are blocking it - what can you do?

Governor Cuomo: Well I support it. I can do what I did last time, which was, I passed the SAFE Act against tremendous opposition, Republicans and Democrats. Remember Brian, we often like to say its Republicans on one side, it's Democrats on the other side. This gun issue, the Democrats are afraid of it also. If you represent rural communities, upstate communities, it is a tough political issue. I was part of the Clinton Administration when we did the assault weapons ban. They believe it was one of the reasons we lost a tremendous number of Democrats. Because it's a tough issue on both sides. So, I support stronger gun laws in the state. Again, we already have the toughest gun laws in the country, but, if you say to me, "Will that protect New Yorkers?" No. I can't protect New Yorkers just with state laws on this issue.

Brian Lehrer: Are you afraid that if New York State gun laws get even tougher, that in a year, when the state Senate might actually go Democratic in the elections, that more state Senators who might be sympathetic to your positions will lose their seats, as apparently happened after the SAFE Act was passed with some Senators who took a tough vote for it?

Governor Cuomo: I think when this issue comes up in November two things, Brian. One, there will be a political cost. I think in this state, most people assume the Democrats are pro-gun reform because we passed the SAFE Act and because it's such a loud issue and because of my position, frankly. So they assume that Democrats support gun reform, so we're going to pay that price anyway. But I believe the political mood has changed and I think you're going to see many of the people who were normally less animated, who wanted the gun reform measures passed more animated. You know what's happened in the past, the majority of the people in this state support gun reform, but those that don't are more energized and vote on that issue. I think that's going to be different in November.

Brian Lehrer: Governor, one other thing before you go on another topic, NYCHA, the public housing in New York. As you know, there have been heat problems this year, lead problems in recent years and a scandal related to that and now NYCHA residents are filing a lawsuit to get things done because they feel that the political process is failing them. When I talk to Mayor de Blasio about this he points fingers at Washington and he points fingers at Albany for not investing enough or what may have been done in the past. What's your response to the lawsuit and to the mayor?

Governor Cuomo: Okay, one quick point just to follow up on your previous question, Brian. If Republicans think they're going to score political points by being against gun reform, they're making a terrible mistake. I read the political climate the exact opposite. I think this November they're going to pay a price because there was something different about Parkland, Florida. Different even than the movement after Sandy Hook, etcetera. They will pay the price for stopping gun reform in this state and nationwide and they should do the right thing, otherwise they're going to pay the political price. On NYCHA, I think what residents are saying is, they're tired of pointing fingers. They want results. You know this is a real life issue. "I'm in an apartment, I have no heat." "I'm in an apartment, there's mold on the walls." "I'm in an apartment with a child and now I hear that there may be lead paint poisoning of my child." And all this political—well it's the council, it's the mayor, it's Washington, It's Albany, it's God. Fix it! Fix it. And you know my

Brian Lehrer: Who, and with what money?

Governor Cuomo: Two things. First, the state has put more money into NYCHA than ever before in history. There are 150 housing authorities in this state. NYCHA is the only housing authority that we've provided significant money. But, Brian, you have to remember I was HUD Secretary. I know NYCHA inside and out. The problem is, when they say "money," that to me, again, is political pandering. Yes, the answer's always more money. Failing schools, failing housing, the politicians say more money. NYCHA's problem is a management problem. When they pay you it takes us three to four years to spend money that we get today. That is a problem. Because people can't wait three to four years to turn on the heat. Lead paint is a problem today. And that's what the residents are complaining about and I think they're right and that's what the Council is complaining about and they're right. No rhetoric, results.

Brian Lehrer: So your position is that the State is giving enough money to NYCHA to fix all these problem in short order if only they would manage it properly?

Governor Cuomo: No. NYCHA is wholly controlled by New York city. It is a federally funded agency. The state historically provides no funding to housing authorities because it has no role. It's a federal program administered by the city. We took an extraordinary step by actually providing funding to NYCHA which had never happened in history before. But what the residents are saying, and what NYCHA is saying, is they can't spend the money in a way that is going to make a real difference in people's lives because of their bureaucracy.

Brian Lehrer: All right.

Governor Cuomo: And if you actually want to accomplish something, Brian, solve the problem. Don't just come up with more political talking points where a councilman gets up or an assemblyman gets up or a mayor gets up or a governor gets up, and everybody has an answer, but meanwhile children are getting poisoned from lead paint and people are living in apartments with no heat. I'm in the business of getting results. That is in my DNA. And they are right, NYCHA cannot implement the changes quickly enough. That's the truth, and that's the problem to solve.

Brian Lehrer: I know you got to go. I want to come back to guns and ask you to give me 30 seconds on whether you believe that Donald Trump has actually flipped from anti-gun control to pro-gun control as he appeared to do on television but nobody knows whether to believe him after yesterday.

Governor Cuomo: I saw the clip of President Trump standing up and pledging allegiance to the NRA and the Second Amendment. I then saw a clip of President Trump basically saying he's in favor of confiscation of guns without any due process. You tell me, I have given up trying to figure out the President in terms of his statements. And I think most people have given up trying to figure out the President in terms of his statements, but I also think they've given up trying to figure out most politicians by statements. They've given up on the whole damn process. So I look for results. I look for product. Let's see what he does and then we'll judge.

Brian Lehrer: Governor, as always, thank you very, very much.

Governor Cuomo: Thank you.