The meeting — which the press had been alerted to — seemed designed to apply pressure on Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos to come to an agreement on gun control legislation, and soon.
“I don’t know about any agreements,” Klein, D-Bronx, said after the meeting when asked about Republican support for the bill. ”I know that the Senate Independent Democratic Conference is whole heartedly supportive of gun control measures.”
Klein reiterated during the impromptu scrum with reporters that the IDC, which is composed of Sens. Diane Savino of Staten Island, David Carlucci of Rockland County, David Valesky of Syracuse and Malcolm Smith of Queens, that there was no daylight between the conference and Cuomo on the issue of gun control.
“We’re on the same page that we have to do everything possible that we have ban assault weapson in New York, high capacity magazines, make sure that people with serious mental health issues don’t possess guns and that’s what we have to do in the state of New York and we have to do it as quickly as possible,” he said.
Klein wouldn’t go into details on the specifics of a new assault weapons ban. New York does have a ban on assault weapons, but Cuomo in recent weeks has criticized the current law for having too many loopholes.
Not discussed at the meeting was microstamping — a process that would require the individual stamping of bullet casings. It’s a measure that Valesky has opposed in the past, and that Senate Republicans blocked last year.
Cuomo had sought to put together a special session of the Legislature before the State of the State, due to be given on Wednesday, making New York the first state to pass new gun control measures in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead.
A special session never coalesced as too many lawmakers were out of town during the Christmas holiday.
But Klein indicated that Cuomo is still pushing hard for gun control this month.
“I’m going to discuss it with my Republican colleagues — especially Senator Skelos — and we’ll see where it takes us,” Klein said. ”But I think we agree and everyone else agrees, that we need to do something about both assault weapons as well as illegal guns that Senator Smith brought up.”
The five-member IDC has agreed to a power-sharing deal with Senate Republicans that would allow both sides to control the flow of legislation in the chamber. The Senate is expected to formalize its leadership on either Tuesday or Wednesday along with the new rules that create the IDC as a new, permanent conference.
Updated: Skelos’ office released a statement laying down a strengtening of Kendra’s Law as a marker for discussing gun control measures. A measure that would have closed loopholes in the law that requires violently mentally ill people receive treatment was bottled up in an Assembly committee.
“The Senate is committed to acting on legislation as soon as possible to strengthen Kendra’s Law and make it permanent,” Skelos said in a statement. “We are seeing more and more horrific stories about what can happen when someone with a severe mental illness, who poses a danger to themselves and others, doesn’t receive the proper treatment. Not only should this issue be a part of our discussions related to gun safety, but it must be part of any three-way agreement on laws to increase public safety and prevent the kind of senseless violence and death we’ve seen in the past month.”