On No-Fly List Access to Guns, Governors Cuomo, Malloy Are Right

BY DANIEL J. O’DONNELL | Just last week, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced a common-sense first response to our nation’s gun-violence epidemic. By executive order, Governor Malloy intends to ban individuals on the federal no-fly list from being able to purchase fire arms in Connecticut. This move has been supported by President Barack Obama and most congressional Democrats — who faced stark opposition from not only congressional Republicans on the Hill, but from that party’s presidential candidates, as well.

With more mass shootings in the United States than days on the calendar, it is long past time to rethink the accessibility of guns. Prohibiting suspected terrorists on the federal no-fly list from being able to purchase guns is a common sense, easy step we can take to make us all safer — a step that the federal government has yet to afford us.

I commend Governor Andrew Cuomo for his response to the San Bernardino terrorist act. His call on federal officials to either pass a law prohibiting anyone on the lists from purchasing a firearm, or to make watch lists available to individual states so that New York can implement its own ban, is precisely what New York needs. If we must move forward with this policy via executive order it should proceed quickly and be supported by the federal government’s immediate cooperation.

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A state-level executive measure to ban gun sales to these individuals has the advantage of being expeditious and clear of political grandstanding, and I will support Governor Cuomo if this occurs.

On the other hand, legislative action is fundamental to our democratic values — bipartisan support for legislation that codifies such policy into state law would be the first of its kind in the United States. Legislative action would set the bar higher throughout all levels of government across the country to ensure that firearms stay out of the hands of those who inflict terror in our communities.

New York State, in addition to states across America, must step in where Congress has refused to take action. By working with the White House to gain access to the databases, states can vow to circumvent Congress’ inaction on gun-violence prevention. Governors and state lawmakers have an opportunity to curb gun violence in a way that the federal government has not, an opportunity that must be seized to ensure the safety of all the citizens we dutifully represent.

My colleagues and I must insist on a path to bar gun sales to individuals on federal terrorism lists and we must insist on protecting all New Yorkers from the mass shootings that have plagued our country for years. If there is question of which path, executive or legislative, is best, I contend that it is of little importance just so long as we act swiftly to prevent another national tragedy.

Daniel J. O’Donnell has represented the Upper West Side’s 69th District in the New York State Assembly since January 2003.