Erie County Minority Caucus supports the repeal and revision of the New York SAFE Act
BY: Jessie Owen | February 15, 2013
ERIE COUNTY — The Erie County Legislature’s Minority Caucus sponsored a resolution supporting the repeal and revision of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 on Feb. 11. The minority caucus is led by Minority Leader John Mills.
The resolution was submitted by legislators Edward Rath, Lynne Dixon, Kevin Hardwick and Joseph Lorigo, as well as Mills.
The New York SAFE Act of 2013 was introduced to the New York Assembly and Senate on Jan. 14. While the Assembly passed that law the next day, Jan. 15, the Senate made it law, the same day it was introduced.
In their opposition to the SAFE Act, the legislators called the swiftness of the legislation’s passage “remarkable for the state Legislature and governor, though lamentably not admirable, in this particular instance.” The Feb. 11 resolution went on to say that the legislators felt that part of the SAFE Act was “thoughtful,” in its attempt to “reduce instances of gun violence involving New Yorkers,” but that they believed other aspects of the act were “knee-jerk reactions made without the benefit of appropriate contemplation at best or, at worst, disingenuous fee grabs, cloaked as security measures.”
Rath, Dixon, Hardwick, Lorigo and Mills called the provision’s heightened penalties for people who kill first responders in the line of duty “appropriate and overdue,” and applauded the act’s protection of registered gun owners as “an effective way to reduce information to individuals who seek to commit crimes against an individual, because of his or her status as gun owner, or not having the protection provided by a gun.”
Another aspect of the act that these legislators lauded was its section about mental health, which they said was a “thoughtful effort to address individuals who may use a weapon for illegal and violent purposes.”
In addition, the Feb. 11 resolution clarified that the minority caucus did not disagree with the SAFE Act’s safe storage provisions and prohibition of guns on school buses or on school grounds, without written authorization of the school. They clarified that the latter measure “appears to be an effective way to separate children from guns, although probably not from people who seek to use guns for illegal and violent purposes.”
Although the minority caucus’s recent resolution named several items its creators said they saw as positives, in the NY SAFE Act of 2013, “unfortunately, the tougher assault weapons ban is overly inclusive and ineffective at reducing gun violence, by individuals who use guns legally.”
The Feb. 11 resolution pointed out that the Remington 870, a “classic pump-action shotgun, a very common shotgun used by sportsmen, can be interpreted to fit the [SAFE Act’s] new definition of ‘assault weapon.’”
The legislators said they believed the SAFE Act failed to focus on individuals who “use, or are a substantial threat to use, guns illegally and for violent purposes.”
They added that the act’s limiting ammunition magazine sizes to seven rounds “does little to reduce gun violence by individuals’ using guns illegally and nothing to reduce gun violence by law-abiding gun owners.”
The legislators pointed out that requiring New York state handgun owners to complete a recertification of their firearms “does not reduce the use of guns by individuals who seek to use them illegally.”
The minority caucus’s resolution said that it appeared that the SAFE Act was an attempt by the state government to “fill its coffers with increased fees, without providing for a mechanism to fund county clerks to accommodate the increased workload from this law.”
The Feb. 11 resolution said that the Second Amendment’s provision of the American people’s un-infringed right to keep bear arms “continues to be a part of the United States Constitution.”
As such, because the legislators said they felt the SAFE Act appears to contain provisions that infringe upon the Second Amendment rights, “the SAFE Act should be repealed, revisited, carefully considered, revised and implemented in a manner that is respectful of the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers.’”
According to a minority caucus representative, this resolution will be brought before the Erie County Legislature as a whole, during its next session, on Feb. 21. It was presented early, in response to queries received from constituents regarding the Legislature’s feedback to the SAFE Act.
The rest of the Erie County legislators will hear the minority caucus’s resolution and vote accordingly, during the Feb. 21 session. If the resolution is approved by the Legislature, copies of this SAFE Act opposition will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate majority leaders Dean Skelos and Jeffrey Klein and the local delegation to the New York State Legislature.
For more information, contact Mills’ office, at 858-8850; Rath’s office, at 858-8676; Dixon’s office, at 858-8671; Hardwick’s office, at 858-8672 or Lorigo’s office, at 858-8922.