New York Governor Kathy Hochul isn’t the first member of New York’s congressional delegation to do an abrupt about-face on the right to keep and bear arms once elected to statewide office. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand broke that particular glass ceiling in 2009 after she was appointed to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State under Barack Obama. It’s hard to believe now, but both Gillibrand and Hochul were once endorsed for Congress by the NRA because of their track record in voting against gun control legislation and in support of bills protecting and strengthening our Second Amendment rights; Gillibrand in 2008 and Hochul in 2012.
In fact, it was just a decade ago when Hochul got the thumbs up from the 2A organization for her “proven record of defending the Second Amendment,” which was steadfast right up until she lost that race to Republican Chris Collins. The next time Hochul appeared on the New York political scene was in 2014 when she was tapped to run to be Andrew Cuomo’s second-in-command, and by then her views had morphed from advocating for the Second Amendment to her current anti-gun (and anti-gun owner) positions.
Hochul is now running for a full four year terms as governor after Andrew Cuomo’s tenure in office came to it’s embarrassing and inglorious end, and while there’s no doubt that she’s now actively hostile to the exercise of that particular civil right, her pro-Second Amendment past is coming up as a campaign issue in the Democratic primary.
One of Hochul’s opponents in the Democratic primary for governor, Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi, accused Hochul of being hypocritical. He says when Hochul was in Congress a decade ago, she opposed federal legislation strengthening background checks for gun buyers.
“That isn’t leadership,” Suozzi said. “That’s hypocrisy.”
Hochul, asked the changes in her views after the news conference announcing the new gun control measures, did not want to discuss it.
“This is not a time for politics,” Hochul said. “And if people don’t realize that, well, I’ll let the media judge, and everyone else can judge.”
“This is not a time for politics”, the politician solemnly intoned as she took questions about her political response to the shooting in Buffalo.
Apparently even Hochul realized how idiotic that sounded, because she kept talking anyway.
Hochul says as lieutenant governor, she saw firsthand the effects of gun violence.
“I’ve gone, for eight years as lieutenant governor, to countless funerals,” Hochul said. “I have made this my calling, because too many lives have been lost. And I will continue to make sure that New York state leads on this.”
Was Hochul somehow unaware of “gun violence” when she was serving in Congress or in city and county government before that? Is she claiming ignorance or apathy for her previous position on the right to keep and bear arms. This is what the NRA and Hochul had to say about each other in October of 2012, just weeks before her election loss.
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the National Rifle Association, an organization that represents thousands of Western New York sportsmen,” Hochul said. “As a county clerk, I was a staunch advocate for sportsmen, and I have carried through on my commitment to protect their rights in Congress.”
“Kathy Hochul has a proven record of defending the Second Amendment,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of NRA-PVF. “Because of her strong support of our rights, Hochul has earned an ‘A’ rating and endorsement from the NRA-PVF.”
The endorsement is consistent with Hochul’s record on Second Amendment issues. As Erie County clerk, she streamlined the government’s permit application process and provided gun shows with the staff and technology needed to ensure that sales went through quickly and safely. In Congress, she has fought to strengthen the rights of gun owners traveling from state to state and to open public lands to hunting and fishing.
Kathy Hochul worked to make buying guns at gun shows easier, helped those who wanted to carry a firearm in self-defense cut through the bureaucratic red tape, and even voted to make it harder for entities like the New York State Police or the Port Authority to prosecute out-of-state gun owners for daring to believe that their Second Amendment rights apply inside the Empire State? What happened??
Hochul doesn’t want to talk about it, but there are only a couple of possibilities; either she had some sort of revelatory experience on the issue of gun control between the time she lost her congressional re-election bid in 2012 and when she emerged as Andrew Cuomo’s choice as running mate in early 2014, or she’s a shameless political hack who’ll say whatever she thinks she needs to in order to win election. Given that Hochul has never spoken in-depth about her change of heart, I’m going with Door #2, especially since, as NPR pointed out, this isn’t the only sea change we’ve seen from Hochul between her time representing a fairly conservative part of New York and running for and serving in a statewide office.
The wholesale reversal is stark, especially considering Hochul’s previous endorsement from the gun lobby. But she has also walked back earlier positions on other issues, including opposition to providing New York State identification cards to undocumented immigrants.
Hochul addressed that change of heart earlier this month in Albany, during her first public remarks after Cuomo’s resignation announcement.
“I had taken a position that has now evolved. And that evolution coincides with the evolution of many people, many people in the state of New York,” Hochul said in response to a reporter question.
That evolution will likely continue.
Yeah, it will. Just don’t expect her to offer a rational explanation for her “evolution” in favor of criminalizing a right she once boasted of protecting. She’s no longer interested in courting gun owners, but blaming them for the actions of violent criminals instead. I honestly believe that her reversal came as a result of a change in her political fortunes, not a change of heart on the right to keep and bear arms, but either way, the one-time ally of Second Amendment supporters is now clearly and squarely on the side of the gun control lobby. Just don’t ask her why.