An New York assemblyman apologized Tuesday hours after he said Hitler and Mussolini would have been proud of Gov. Andrew Cuomo for pushing through a gun-control bill last month.
Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin of Melrose, N.Y., was criticizing Cuomo for using a message of necessity to pass the gun bill and avoiding a three-day waiting period for the bill to be adopted.
“If that’s not dictatorial, I don’t know what is.” McLaughlin said in a news conference Tuesday morning. “Hitler would be proud. Mussolini would be proud of what we did here. Moscow would be proud. But that’s not democracy.”
As criticism of his comments mounted, McLaughlin issued a written apology and a video statement Tuesday afternoon, saying he tried to call Cuomo to apologize.
“He did not deserve that,” McLaughlin said in the video. “Just like you, I’m human, and I make mistakes sometimes.”
McLaughlin said he is passionate, and so are his constituents, about how quickly the gun bill was passed Jan. 15. The bill was approved hours after it was printed.
“In politics, too often people are unwilling to admit their mistakes,” McLaughlin said in the statement. “Today, in the heat of the moment, I let my passion overcome me and made an insensitive remark that has overshadowed a serious matter regarding democracy in New York State. I used a poor analogy and have called Governor Cuomo to apologize.”
Some lawmakers said while they may agree or disagree with legislation at the Capitol, McLaughlin’s comment went too far.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate to use that sort of language,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua.
As the head of the Assembly Republican conference, Kolb said he planned to talk to McLaughlin. The leaders of the Assembly and Senate also said they disapproved of McLaughlin’s remarks.
Cuomo’s office did not respond to McLaughlin’s comments or his apology.
The Anti-Defamation League criticized McLaughlin, a second-term assemblyman who has opposed the gun-control law.
“The heated political debate over gun control and government transparency should not be tainted by inappropriate and offensive invocations of Hitler or Nazism,” Ron Meier, ADL New York regional director, said in a statement.
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