Cuomo challenges politicians on gun control in Buffalo appearance | Local News

In his first visit to Buffalo since leaving office last August, Andrew M. Cuomo revived a host of themes familiar to his more than 10 years as governor during a Sunday appearance at True Bethel Baptist Church aimed at consoling a grieving community.

He expressed his sympathies to a Black community mourning the murder of 10 of their neighbors on May 14. He pronounced his love for Buffalo, just as on his many previous trips to New York’s second largest city. And he made a plea for removing military-style weapons from the streets, exactly as during his 2013 effort to implement one of the nation’s strictest gun control laws.

But even after President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer sounded the same theme during visits to Buffalo last week – and even as they acknowledged their unlikely chances of success – the former governor seemed to have no patience for excuses or “thoughts and prayers. “as he addressed reporters following remarks from the True Bethel pulpit.

“Politicians always say that,” he said of officeholders in general. “We took on guns in this state. We said this is a priority. The majority of people in this state support it. The majority of people in this country support it.

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“It’s reckless, irresponsible and dangerous for politicians to say ‘I know the majority of people want it, but I’m not going to get it done,'” he added.

Though the Tops gunman apparently was able to buy his weapon legally in New York, Cuomo said he is convinced of the controversial SAFE Act that he championed saved lives.

The former governor also questioned whether the state’s “red flag law” aimed to alert authorities to people threatening violence worked in the Buffalo incident. He acknowledged he was not familiar with the details, but said “from what I’ve read that law was not followed.”

Cuomo also targeted officeholders espousing white supremacist views or a “replacement theory” that espouses that immigrants and minorities aim to take over the country.

“Let’s see Congress stand up and censure people who actually do that,” he said, adding that politicians’ silence “violates their oath.”

He called for stricter monitoring of social media to weed out domestic terrorists like the Broome County man accused in the killings at Tops Market on Jefferson Avenue in the same way government watches foreign terrorists.

After resigning as governor following a host of ethical accusations last summer, Cuomo has maintained a relatively low profile. On the rare occasions when he surfaces, he normally heads to minority communities where polls show he continues to enjoy strong support. In March, for example, he commented before a Puerto Rican audience in the South Bronx on a host of issues facing Albany. On that day, to enthusiastic applause, he criticized criminal justice laws he said went “too far” as well as a “bloated” state budget.

On Sunday, he found the same enthusiastic response from the mostly Black congregation at True Bethel on East Ferry Street, where he was welcomed by Bishop Darius G. Pridgen, who is also president of the Buffalo Common Council. Cuomo began his 11-minute remarks by expressing his condolences, adding “I am sickened by what happened here in Buffalo.”

“It could not be more ugly because we wanted to believe this type of violence and hatred was a stain in America’s past – not a problem in the present,” he said. “But it is – race-based mass shootings are modern day. lynchings. The noose has been replaced with an assault rifle. “

Quoting from Deuteronomy and Micah, the Hebrew prophet, the former governor reiterated to several hundred Sunday morning worshipers that the Lord seeks results, and applied the idea to the need for new measures designed to stave off mass shootings.

“We faced opposition from the Republicans and from some Democrats,” he said. “We paid the political price. But we got it done and this federal government needs to get it done because even our state’s laws are not enough.”

Cuomo also told True Bethel that the Bible instructs them to seek justice.

“Do justice. Politics today is toxic – we have extremist politicians who are fanning the flames of fear. They are purposely fomenting hate groups by saying Blacks, Latinos and immigrants are a replacement theory for the white race, “he said.” And an elected official who supports them is no better than a modern-day Bull Connor. “

Pridgen, who announced services for True Bethel congregant and shooting victim Margus Morrison later this week, followed with his own sermon on the importance of maintaining mental health and the oblique connection to mass shootings like the Tops incident, at one point spurring Cuomo to stand and clap his hands.

The former governor mixed with congregants for several minutes after his speech, waving and posing for photos.

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