Gun owners won’t be shedding many tears over the resignation of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but they likely won’t be cheering the elevation of Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to the governor’s mansion either. That was always the case, however. There was a time when Second Amendment supporters would have been thrilled to see Hochul as the state’s chief executive, because she used to be a vocal supporter of the right to keep and bear arms.
As Law360 notes, Hochul’s flip-flopped on quite a few issues over the past decade, including her position on the Second Amendment.
While in Congress from 2011 to 2013, she received an A grade from the National Rifle Association after saying she opposed gun control regulations, but she later changed her position.
Speaking at a Batavia gun group in 2012 alongside two Republican lawmakers, Hochul touted her role in expediting gun permits as a county clerk and said she was proud of the rankings gun groups had given her.
“When a bill comes up that affects your Second Amendment rights, I’m on your side,” she told the group, according to a local newspaper account.
But a year later, Hochul supported the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, a broad gun control bill that created, among other things, a universal background check.
Hochul borrowed a page from fellow New Yorker Kirsten Gillibrand with her dramatic about-face on 2A issues. The junior senator from New York was also once a reliable vote in favor of the right to keep and bear arms when she served in the House of Representatives, but when she was appointed to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate in 2009, Gillibrand quickly reversed course and adopted an across-the-board hostility towards any and all legislation that would protect or secure the right to keep and bear arms.
Similarly, when Hochul represented western New York in Congress a decade ago, she was not only a vocal supporter of the Second Amendment, but even scored the endorsement of the NRA in her re-election bid in 2012. After being defeated by Republican Chris Collins in a narrow 51-49 contest, however, Hochul recalibrated her positions on gun issues and apparently determined that her future in the Democratic Party would be a lot brighter if she began demanding more gun control instead of standing on the side of the gun owners she’d courted months earlier. In 2013 she backed Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act, and the following year the Love Guv tapped her as his running mate.
Since then Kathy Hochul has been a reliable voice of support for the state’s gun control restrictions, and while she’s sure to try to differentiate herself from Cuomo’s tarnished political legacy, don’t expect that to involve any return to the pro-Second Amendment stances she took when she was in Congress. In fact, with Attorney General Letitia James widely expected to run for governor next year, if Hochul wants a full term as governor she’s likely to take a very hard line in favor of more gun control legislation. James, after all, will be running not only as the Cuomo-slayer but as the candidate who’ll kill off the NRA as well (after first declaring it a terrorist organization).
If Hochul plans on courting gun control activists during the Democratic primary, she’s going to have to step up her game, and one easy way to do it would be to demand a host of new infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. Her predecessor gave New York gun owners the SAFE Act, but don’t be surprised if Hochul drops an anti-gun omnibus bill of her own (the SAFER Act, maybe?) between now and next November. Andrew Cuomo was awful for gun owners in New York, but Kathy Hochul promises to be no better.