ALBANY — Some gun manufacturers say they will no longer sell their firearms to New York law enforcement agencies after the state passed a broader assault-weapons ban last month.
At least five companies have expressed an unwillingness to sell to New York police since Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Safe Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act in January. The bill, known as the NY SAFE Act, included a ban on any semiautomatic rifles or shotguns with a “military-style” feature, such as a pistol grip or a folding stock.
“In short, Olympic Arms will no longer be doing business with the State of New York or any governmental entity or employee of such governmental entity within the State of New York” until the law is repealed, the Washington-based company wrote in a news release last week.
Other companies to express a similar sentiment include LaRue Tactical, York Arms, Templar Custom and EFI, LLC, as well as sporting-goods retailer Cheaper Than Dirt.
Tom Spithaler, Olympic’s sales director, said the sales policy is meant to “even the playing field.” The company specializes in making AR-15s, a semiautomatic rifle affected by the state’s new gun laws.
If civilians can’t buy a semiautomatic weapon, then the company won’t sell to law enforcement, Spithaler said.
“We feel as though if the state Legislature deems those weapons to be problematic and they’re a risk to public safety, then (law enforcement) shouldn’t have them either,” said Spithaler, who said his company had no pending sales to New York entities but has sold to the state’s police agencies in the past.
Cuomo’s office dismissed the gun manufacturers’ decision not to sell to New York police, saying nothing in the new law prevents them from doing so.
“It would be unfortunate and cynical if some tried to use this as an excuse to break preexisting contracts now that the price for these weapons has increased nationwide,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in a statement. “There is no shortage of responsible vendors who would want to assist New York’s law enforcement agencies keep New Yorkers safe.”
It doesn’t appear the sales policies of the handful of smaller-to-mid-size manufacturers would have an impact on the state and local governments’ ability to procure weapons for police. The country’s largest gun manufacturers — including Smith & Wesson and Remington Arms — have not signaled they would halt sales to the state’s police and sheriffs. Neither company returned a request for comment Tuesday.
Richard Carey, deputy director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said the impacts of the state’s new gun laws as they relate to manufacturers are still playing out.
“Certainly, if resources are not available to law enforcement, that’s a concern. But we have yet to see what exactly is going to be the result,” Carey said. “We can’t point to anything specifically that’s cause for major concern at this point.” Cuomo, who led the push for tighter restrictions on assault weapons and the capacity of magazines, said he was unfazed by the gun manufacturers’ decision to stop selling in New York.
“If they don’t want to sell, they don’t have to sell,” Cuomo told reporters Sunday. “Of course, we welcome all companies and their business. But if they don’t want to sell, fine.”