10/08/2013 02:05 pm ET Updated Oct 08, 2013

Joe Lhota Told Tea Party Members That NYC Gun Laws Amount To 'Harassment'


Republican New York City mayoral candidate Joe Lhota thinks New York City's gun control laws can amount to the "harassment"of gun owners.

"The city of New York, though, goes to an extreme with their-- bureaucracy is not even strong enough of a word--it's almost a level of harassment at a certain point, and it needs to change," Lhota said to a group of Staten Island Tea Party Republicans in April, as seen in video of the speech recently obtained by NY1. "There's something that should be fair and speedy about being able to get a gun permit," Lhota added.

Lhota's previously characterized the Tea Party event as a "huge, verbally violent discussion of gun control and what it means to New York City."

But Staten Island Tea Party co-founder Frank Santarpia said Lhota's meeting with the group was more of a "friendly banter back and forth."

When questioned about the video on Monday, Lhota emphasized that he was talking about how the gun permit renewal process needed to speedier.

"People who legitimately need it, it's getting harder and harder and harder for getting the renewal license, which is required, and it should be required once a year," he said. "They shouldn't be making it hard. These are not people with illegal guns."

In a statement on Tuesday, Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio slammed Lhota's comments as another example of how Lhota sympathizes with far-right Republicans.

"It’s becoming increasingly clear that the more New Yorkers hear from Joe Lhota, the more he reveals himself to be a typical Tea Party politician who is out of touch with New Yorkers," de Blasio said.

On Monday, Lhota told WNYC host Brian Lehrer that he supported another key Republican position: a one-year delay on implementing the Obamacare mandate.

Lhota, however, was also careful to condemn Republican "extremists" for shutting down the federal government, and said that he opposes the complete defunding of President Obama's health care program.


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