A Republican-sponsored bill in the Senate and Assembly would eliminate most provisions of the controversial SAFE Act in upstate New York and on Long Island.
The bill (S.0879/A.6140) would “reestablish the rights of law abiding citizens in rural and suburban areas of the state” by limiting the regulations of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 Act to Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan and the Bronx.
“Its time to acknowledge that what’s good for urban downstate might not be as good or needed upstate,” said Assembly sponsor Marc Butler, R-Newport.
Sponsors and supporters of the bill say that, as the implementation of the NY SAFE Act has progressed, “it has become clear that the law infringes on the rights of lawful gun owners.”
They cite a memorandum of understanding acknowledging the pistol permit database cannot be established and a court case that struck down the seven-round load limit as evidence that the law needs to be repealed.
The bill memo also points to a recent minimum wage agreement — where New York City workers will receive a $15 minimum wage sooner than upstate workers — as proof that “the diversity of New York state demands that laws are tailored to accommodate each region.”
“While those downstate have praised the SAFE Act’s effectiveness, the statistics show that in upstate and western New York, all that the SAFE Act does is put restrictions on responsible, law-abiding gun owners,” said Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda, a co-sponsor of the Assembly bill.
The bill is sponsored in the Senate by Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda.
He says there are some areas of the state, especially in upstate rural areas, where it is not practical to keep firearms out of the hands of homeowners who would have to wait extended periods for law enforcement to arrive at their home for protection.
“New York City plays by its own rules on so many issues. It has its own regulations when it comes to ride-sharing services and minimum wage increases, so it only makes sense to let New York City progressives keep the SAFE Act and reform the law everywhere else,” Ortt said.
He said the SAFE Act’s “sweeping overreach turned yesterday’s law-abiding citizens and sportsmen into today’s criminals. Separating gun regulations between New York City and the rest of the state will help to relieve the unnecessary burden placed on gun owners and begin to bridge the divide.”
Ortt and Butler say the ultimate goal should be a full repeal of the SAFE Act, which was passed in January 2013 following the Newtown, Conn massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 students and six adult staff and faculty members were shot to death.
“Frankly most of us believe it was more about public relations than public policy,” Butler said. But in the meantime “this legislation recognizes that the SAFE Act is specifically harmful to the rural and suburban areas of our state,” Ortt said.
The legislation would reverse many elements of the SAFE Act including gun licensing re-certification requirements, storage mandates, firearm seizures and registries, and information collected on gun owners.
Specifically, it would:
• Repeal the five-year recertification requirement for pistol permits;
• Full repeal the ammunition database;
• Repeal the statewide License and Record Database that has not yet been implemented; and
• Authorize the transfer of firearms, rifles and shotguns to family members as part of an estate.
“What has always been one of our greatest strengths as a nation is our tolerance and understanding of our regional differences, New York state needs to learn this same lesson,” Butler said. “My legislation is meant to reverse the efforts of New York City liberals through the so-called SAFE Act that have undermined our values, our rights and safety.”
The Senate version of the bill was introduced on January 5 and has been amended three times. It currently resides in the Codes Committee. The Assembly bill has been in the Codes Committee since February 23. There are no Democratic co-sponsors in either house.