What the SAFE Act “Repealers” Won’t Tell You

This article was written by Leah Gunn Barrett,  executive director of the New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and the New Yorkers Against Gun Violence Education Fund. I read it in the (Dunkirk) Observer on January 19.

The NY SAFE Act, the landmark gun safety bill passed in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, was supported by a bipartisan legislature and signed in to law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 15, 2013. It is also supported by a wide majority of New Yorkers.

The NY SAFE Act was not rushed through. The measures in the law were bills that had been pending in the Assembly and Senate for years. These are not new ideas. Several assault weapon bills have passed or have been proposed over the years. In 2012, there were two bills in the Assembly proposing expansion of the assault weapons ban: A6108 (Titone) and A1479 (Rosenthal). A5866-A (Jeffries) proposed a ban on high capacity magazines. Bills on revocation of firearms licenses for prohibited purchasers include A3081 (Lupardo), A6406-A (Weinstein). The Assembly also passed A2494-A (O’Donnell) for a number of years, which requires that a judge inquire as to the possession of a firearm by a defendant or respondent when issuing an order of protection. A bill, A3295 by Paulin was proposed on recertification of pistol permits; and a bill on background checks for private sales, A362 (Paulin) was proposed in 2012.

It is important to realize that the New York SAFE Act respects the right to bear arms and the interest of hunters, sportsmen and legal owners who use their guns appropriately. It is fully consistent with the Second Amendment. Justice Scalia affirmed in the 2008 Heller decision that the Second Amendment allows reasonable regulation of dangerous and unusual weapons. The muskets of the 18th century and other single-shot weapons have little in common with the military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines today.

The SAFE Act is seen by some as protecting public safety.

And federal Judge William Skretny, a Republican appointed by George H. W. Bush, agrees. On Dec. 31, he ruled that the NY SAFE Act’s regulation of assault weapons and high capacity magazines is constitutional and furthermore protects public safety. And he is right. New Yorkers are safer from gun violence after the passage of the NY SAFE Act. The stronger ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines will keep weapons like the Bushmaster assault rifle used in the Newtown tragedy out of New York communities. Adam Lanza used four 30-round magazines to kill 20 children and 6 educators. If he had been limited to 10-round magazines, he would not have been able to kill so many people so quickly. Nine-year-old Christine Taylor-Green, was killed in Tucson with the 13th bullet. She would be alive today if the killer had used a 10-round magazine.

The New York SAFE Act protects public safety by requiring criminal background checks on all gun and ammunition sales. Guns and ammunition will be kept out of the hands of convicted felons, domestic abusers and potentially dangerous mental health patients. From 1994 to 2009, the federal background check system has kept nearly 2 million criminals and other dangerous people from buying guns. Responsible gun owners are not against keeping guns out of the wrong hands. The law also toughens criminal penalties on those who use illegal guns.

The SAFE Act protects public safety by requiring pistol licenses and assault rifle registrations to be recertified every five years, just as New Yorkers must renew their driver’s licenses every five years. Recertification of firearms permits will give law enforcement the ability to determine if the licensee has engaged in any criminal activity that would prohibit the individual from continuing to possess a firearm. For example, at the 2009 Binghamton mass shooting, the shooter had a lifetime firearms permit, therefore law enforcement did not learn of his violent behavior that would have disqualified him from having the permit. There is no cost involved in registering assault weapons. In fact, the registration process is much simpler than the process for obtaining a handgun license.

The New York SAFE Act protects public safety by making the murder of a first responder who is engaged in his or her duties a Class A-1 felony, with a mandatory penalty of life in prison without parole. It will provide needed protection to our first responders like those in Webster, N.Y.

The SAFE Act protects public safety by requiring the safe storage of firearms in homes where individuals live who have been convicted of a crime, involuntarily committed, or subject to an order of protection.

The law also protects victims of domestic violence by requiring the court to suspend or revoke gun permits when issuing or addressing a violation of an order of protection.

Strong gun laws work and they are a big reason why New York, a state of 20 million people, has the fourth lowest gun death rate in the nation, despite hosting 80 million visitors per year.

But strong federal gun laws are needed to further protect New Yorkers. In 2012, 68 percent of traced crime guns in New York state – 90 percent in New York City – originated from states with weak gun laws. Universal background checks and making gun trafficking a felony would help reduce the flow of illegal guns into New York’s communities and would protect our citizens from the scourge of gun violence. That’s something all New Yorkers should support.

About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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19 Responses to What the SAFE Act “Repealers” Won’t Tell You

  1. BOB McGILL says:

    So explain why someone gets shot in Rochester almost every day ? Criminals are criminals and more laws don’t change a thing. Now, tell us how many times a gun is used in self defence everyday in this country !!!!!!!! –
    SimilarWikipediaLoading…Defensive gun use (DGU) is the use of a firearm in self-defense or defense of … a defensive gun use which leads to controversy in comparing statistical results. …. On average in 1987-92 about 83,000 crime victims per year used a firearm to …


  2. BOB McGILL says:

    Need I remind you that it wasn’t gun control laws that failed in Newtown, it was the health care system for the mentally ill that failed. It’s my opinion that the mother had a screw loose.


  3. pystew says:

    I agree with you that there are loose screws out there. Rep. Reed, on the day after Newtown, had heard the “Mental Health” talking point and place all of the problems on the Mental Health community. What has he done about it? What bills has he sponsored, co-sponsored, or even supported that would help solve the need to improve Mental Health Services in the US? I don’t know. I called his office and asked that question–and they said they would call me back. I asked him at the November Bath Town Hall meeting. The question was not deemed worthy enough to answer, but I was assured that all written questions would be researched and the writer would receive an response. I am still waiting for the phone call and an email response. I have to assume that they have nothing they could spin that would be in his benefit.


  4. pystew says:

    Bob, I think a key fact in this article is: NYS has the “fourth lowest gun death rate in the nation.” and that many of the weapons used in those shootings come from out of the state. Stronger NATIONAL gun laws is needed, but the money the NRA given to our law makers, Rep. Reed included, willa assure that wpn’t happen. That is the real problem.

    I agree with you that the Rochester shootings happen far to often, and more needs to be done. Few believe that more guns solves the problems.


  5. BOB McGILL says:

    Mental Health is handled at the state and county level, but blame Reed anyway. 😉


  6. BOB McGILL says:

    But you don’t mention that the guns used are illegal in the first place. How many laws do we need for the same problem, when one doesn’t work ?


  7. pystew says:

    How do you know they are illegal? Was the gun used by the man in Canandaigua that ws in today’s FL Times (3A) legal or illegal? The article doesn’t tell.

    How about yesterday’s Maryland Mall Shooting?


  8. pystew says:

    The SAFE Act is also a state issue, and Reed has declared that it is unconstitutional. The stopped in at the Yates SCOPE Picnic and made sure those folks knew that he was against it.


  9. whungerford says:

    It isn’t clear to me what Tom means when he says the Safe Act is unconstitutional. Is he thinking of the NYS Constitution, the US Constitution, or is he just expressing a vague general opinion for political reasons. If Tom really thinks the Safe Act is unconstitutional, I wish he would explain why.


  10. bob mcgill says:

    DUH, criminal possession of a weapon ( a class C felony ) means he had the gun illegally !!!!! That is what the guy was charged with and it says so in the paper. 😉

    Most gun violence is gang related. Now tell me, did the kid who did the Newtown shooting have a legal right to have that gun ? Why ask me a question when ALL the facts are not yet made public ? Did the guy that stabbed two people last night in Rochester need a gun ? If one of the victims had a gun would it have happened at all ?
    Your argument is WEAK


  11. whungerford says:

    An article by Michelle Healy (USA Today), which appeared in the Elmira “Star-Gazette” on Jan. 27, explains that 20 young people a day go to the hospital for gun injuries. Of 7391 trips to the hospital, 453 resulted in death. Children who survive often require extensive medical care and rehabilitation. Guns are the 2nd highest cause of death, after auto accidents, for youth between 15 and 19. Ms. Healy reports that, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “the safest home of children and teens is one without guns,” and if there are guns in the home, they should be “stored unloaded and locked, with the ammunition locked away.”


  12. BOB McGILL says:

    Table 1. The five leading causes and number of unintentional injury deaths among children, by age group, United States, 2009
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
    800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 – Contact CDC–INFO
    Rank* Age <1 Ages 1–4 Ages 5–9 Ages 10–14 Ages 15–19
    1 Suffocation
    907 (77%) Drowning
    450 (31%) Motor Vehicle (MV) Traffic
    378 (49%) MV Traffic
    491 (68%) MV Traffic
    3,242 (67%)
    2 MV Traffic
    91 (8%) MV Traffic
    363 (25%) Drowning
    119 (15%) Transportation – Other
    117 (15%) Poisoning
    715 (15%)
    3 Drowning
    45 (4%) Fire/Burns
    169 (12%) Fire/Burns
    88 (11%) Drowning
    90 (10%) Drowning
    279 (6%)
    4 Fire/Burns
    25 (2%) Transportation – Other
    147 (10%) Transportation – Other
    68 (9%) Fire/Burns
    53 (6%) Transportation – Other
    203 (4%)
    5 Poisoning
    22 (2%) Suffocation
    125 (9%) Suffocation
    26 (3%) Suffocation
    41 (5%) Fall
    58 (1%)


  13. whungerford says:

    Bob, in the report you found, injuries from firearms are reported as “other” and are #2 for ages 15-19 as shown in Table 2.

    Click to access CDC-childhoodinjury.pdf


  14. BOB McGILL says:

    and OTHER means JUST guns I suppose—tell me, how many times do you read about a 15-19 year old being injured by a gun? Other than a drive by shooting where a child was not the intended target, or a gang related incident. Also most gang members are of what age group ? Can’t be 15-19 can it !!!!!!!!!!


  15. BOB McGILL says:

    SimilarMar 11, 2012 – Average age of a gang member – 12-24 years of age; Most likely to be – African American; Male; Uneducated; From a broken home (or single …


  16. BOB McGILL says:

    SimilarThe average age of gang members is from 14 to 21 years of age. … Most gangs target youth that are easily talked into doing work for the gang. What is the State …


  17. BOB McGILL says:

    What is so typical of this blog is that you twist the facts to suit your own purpose and then claim that the Republicans won’t fix it. Tell me, how can you fix something when you refuse to accept the TRUTH about it in the first place ? ;-(


  18. mayday911us says:

    Yes all those laws were tried to be passed/or sat there before in New York State.

    But the so called safe act was passed at 1 AM with no prior knowledge or debate by the citizens of the state of New York. There is something called the three day cooldown when law is introduced and debated upon so the citizens can hear it. But the thought was ram through in the name of public safety by the governor.

    Plus the best part it was it was changed again at night because it didn’t exclude police officers. Over the magazine limit the one thing it still doesn’t exclude them from registration and they have a lot of firearms.

    Now what this law actually does is band features not the weapon itself. The function of the firearm is not changed. You can still get an AR 15 in New York state that is New York State compliant it has no pistol grip no forward grip no flash suppressor no compensator or muzzle brake. But the weird thing about that weapon is it’s still holds a 30 round magazine or anything else that is made for it.

    Plus the law states it’s for semi automatic but if you going to guts of the registration page weapons that are both action are listed there. Because the bayonets thumbhole stocks etc.

    But let’s now go it homicides with firearms are up 10% in New York City.

    The governor staffer was shot.

    Oh last why was the governor screaming you don’t need 10 rounds to kill a deer. Wen the hunting laws state it’s five rounds in the magazine for rifle?

    And what constitutes an illegal gun. Due to no one can actually explain that to me as in what it is under the law.

    Why only 50,000 so called assault weapons were registered in New York State?

    What really needed to happen was Strengthening the laws for having a firearm. That is a legal or you’re not supposed to possess under criminal conviction.

    As in five years in prison for having a handgun or rifle you’re not supposed to have. Due to a criminal conviction or order of protection.

    10 years in prison for using a firearm in a crime with it’s acting it or saying it.

    15 to 25 in prison for using it in a murder.

    10 years in prison for straw purchasers.


  19. pystew says:

    The SAFE Act is the law of the land. Neither the NYS Court of Appeals or the Federal Court in Buffalo, who have ruled on cases attempting to have it declared unconstitutional, ruled in favor of it I realize that people who you respect (Congress members like Rep. Tom Reed has declared it unconstitutional, but they are wrong.

    Some groups, like SCOPE has also declared it an illegal law, and urges its members to disobey it. I, too, have wondered why only 50,000 assault weapons have been turned in as prescribe in the SAFE Act. Those who still own an illegal Assault weapon is a criminal, and should be arrested, taken to Court. I wrote an article about this issue and it can be found at our website. Read it and let me know about what you think.


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