Carl Palidino: Important Message re: the NY SAFE Act


portant Message re: the NY SAFE Act.

Today is the two year Anniversary of the SAFE Act. Senator Nozzolio introduced a “Repeal” Bill last week. Nozzolio and his co-sponsors know that this is only an attempt to appease their constituents—it has no chance of becoming law so long as Cuomo is Governor. This is the classic two-step….feed them a story back home while the insiders in Albany wink and nod.

The opportunity for the real SAFE Act reform is there, the NYC Dems MUST have an extension of the rent control laws by June. MUST. It would be political Armageddon for them if the rent control laws expired. All Skelos has to do is require SAFE Act reform in exchange for the rent control rules.

Joe Spector had an interesting article January 9th in the Gannett quoting Skelos as hiding behind the “Cuomo and Silver will never allow it” line, which is crap. Skelos can achieve SAFE Act revisions if he puts the full force of his leverage behind it. We must put pressure on all the GOP Senators to make it part of Skelos’ Budget and rent control negotiating strategy.

NY SAFE Act reform on the table

 

ALBANY –

Two years after the state adopted among the toughest gun-control measures in the nation, some Republican state lawmakers are seeking reforms to the controversial law.

Republicans senators in recent days have introduced bills that would either repeal the so-called SAFE Act or modify it, such as allowing homeowners to have 10 bullets, instead of seven, in a handgun at home.

Critics said the law was hastily passed in the middle of the night in January 2013 and needs to be revisited. For example, a federal judge has ruled the seven-bullet limit as unconstitutional, and police aren’t enforcing it. The law is also being fought in court.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo championed the law in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting in 2012, and he’s shown no interest in major changes. Some Democrats said they want to make the law stronger, while gun-rights advocates held numerous protests calling for its repeal.

Republicans, who took a majority in the state Senate this month, said they would press for changes.

“I think the time is right for, if not outright repeal, then certainly modifications to the SAFE Act, and I’m hopeful we are going to see some movement on it in the new session,” said Sen. Phil Boyle, R-Suffolk County, who is sponsoring the “Defend Our Homes Act.”

Since the law took effect in March 2013, there were 3,930 arrests as of mid-December under the various SAFE Act offenses, state records obtained by Gannett’s Albany Bureau showed.

The overwhelmingly majority of the arrests — 3,230 — were in New York City, mainly in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Outside the city, the most were on Long Island and then Monroe County, where there were 69 arrests, records shows.

There were 53 arrests under the SAFE Act in Erie County, 34 in Westchester County and 14 in Broome County.

The most — 3,173 — were for criminal possession of a firearm, which was made a felony under the law. Of the total arrests, 2,409 were in 2014.

There were just two arrests, both last October in Jefferson and Rensselaer counties, for failing to register an assault-style weapon, and none for a provision that makes it a crime for a seller of ammunition to fail to register or keep records — which took effect a year ago.

Some law enforcement officials said they are enforcing the law but haven’t been aggressively seeking out gun owners to determine whether they are complying.

“If we run across it through other circumstances, whether it be on a call, an investigation or a traffic stop, then we will take the appropriate action,” Dutchess County Capt. John Watterson said. That county had 12 arrests under the SAFE Act, eight of which were for criminal possession of a firearm.

Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss, the Republican lieutenant governor candidate last year, opposed the law, and state records showed no arrests under the SAFE Act in his county.

“It’s not high on my list of priorities,” said Moss, saying he’s focused on other crimes and the area’s heroin problem.

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley, a Democrat, said the county routinely uses the criminal possession of a firearm felony charge when a defendant illegally has an unregistered handgun, even if it is unloaded — something that wasn’t possible before the law.

“Though the SAFE Act has garnered a great deal of debate in our state, its use in Monroe County has been limited to enhancing, rather than initiating, the prosecutions of violent criminals already facing serious felony charges,” she said in a statement.

Cuomo has called the SAFE Act one of the main accomplishments of his first term, and Democrats who control the Assembly have also praised the law.

The law requires guns to be registered, strengthens a ban on assault-style weapons and mandates that mental-health professionals report potentially violent patients who may be gun owners. About 34,000 people were reported as too dangerous to have guns, the New York Times said in October.

“After Sandy Hook when we saw the massacre and we saw the children killed and we said, ‘Enough is enough with this lunacy of guns,’ ” Cuomo said in his inaugural address Jan. 1 as he began a second term. “You needed a big state to pass sensible gun control. Who did it? The state of New York did it. We did it first. That is who we are.”

Senate Republicans now hold an outright majority, and several new GOP members beat Democrats in the Nov. 4 elections in part because of their opposition to the gun law.

Assemblyman Bill Nojay, R-Pittsford, said gun-rights groups focused on five Senate races, and Republicans won them all, including beating three sitting Democrats — in the Rochester area and Hudson Valley — who backed the law.

“There’s no question that the anti-SAFE Act voters had significant impact in all five races,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, who voted for the law, said he was open to changes but didn’t think Cuomo would go along. State leaders did make some minor changes after the law took effect, including exemptions for current and retired police officers.

“The reality is that the governor is not going to change the SAFE Act and the Assembly is not going to change the SAFE Act,” he said. “But if there are things that can be done in a positive way, I would be supportive.”

Critics said the law needs an overhaul. There have been questions about the effectiveness of the mental-health reporting requirements, and a database the state is creating for background checks on ammunition sales has not been operational.

Meanwhile, the State Police have refused to release statistical information on the number of new pistol permits or how many assault-style weapons have been registered under the law. The state claims the information is private, although the state Committee on Open Government has disagreed.

Supporters of the law said they too would be open to revisiting the law, particularly to make it stronger. Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan, said it could be strengthened in domestic-violence cases, as well as to add a safe-storage provision.

“It was a very good bill, but no bill gets the law perfect,” Kavanagh said, “and there may be changes that we want to make, and more importantly there may be additional things we can do to keep New Yorkers safe.”

JSPECTOR@Gannett.com

Twitter.com/gannettalbany

Findings

Since the SAFE Act took effect, there were 3,930 arrests as of mid-December under the law.

The overwhelmingly majority of the arrests — 3,230 — were in New York City, mainly in the Bronx or Brooklyn.

Outside the city, the most arrests were on Long Island and then Monroe County, where there were 69 arrests. There were 53 arrests under the SAFE Act in Erie County, 34 in Westchester County and 14 in Broome County.

The most arrests — 3,173 — were for criminal possession of a firearm, which was made a felony under the law.

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