Update: Upstate Empire State pols work to repeal Cuomo’s gun law
Opposition to New York’s extreme gun control law the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act continues and elected officials are stepping forward to promote full repeal of the bill that was hastily, strong-armed into law.
“The Republican majority made this happen,” said Rep. David J. DiPietro (R.-East Aurora), a freshmen state assemblyman representing parts of Erie and Wyoming County in western New York.
Dean G. Skelos (R.-Rockville Centre) who is the majority leader of the New York State Senate is to blame, he said. “He voted for the bill. He allowed the bill to come to the floor.”
The former Village of Aurora trustee and mayor said that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo brokered a deal with Skelos to enact the SAFE Act. “They threatened Long Island Republicans that if they did not vote for the bill, $1 million would be donated to an opponent for their seat.”
“Skelos and his Long Island delegation sold us out,” he said.
It is a long fight, but New Yorkers are battling the state in the courts, through municipality resolutions, and by protest, DiPietro said. “The SAFE Act is an innocuous gun law that infringes on everyone’s rights.”
The NRA member and avid sportsman introduced legislation in the assembly to repeal the SAFE Act in full. Sen. Kathleen A. Marchione (R. – Halfmoon) introduced a replica of the bill in the senate, he said. “We are both working on getting co-sponsors.”
It is unlikely Skelos will permit the repeal bill to be debated on the floor of the senate, he said. “Repeal of the law would leave egg on his face.”
The current assembly make-up does not favor repeal, at all, he said. There are 104 Democrats, 42 Republicans, and 1 Independence Party member.
Sheldon “Shelly” Silver (D.-Manhattan) who has been the speaker of the assembly for 19 years is supportive of the law, and is more powerful than the governor, DiPietro said. “Nothing comes to the floor unless Silver says so.”
Silver was recently sued by a New York resident for allegedly paying secret settlement funds to individuals who made sexual harassment claims against another assemblyman.
DiPietro said that after Cuomo quietly secured enough votes for passage, the SAFE Act was illegally passed without warning, in the dead of night. “Cuomo usurped his power by invoking the message of necessity and rushing it to law.”
“Without imminent danger or threat to the public, there was no emergency,” he said.
Despite setbacks, New Yorkers must keep vigilant, he said. “They are backpedaling; we are counter-punching.”
There will be massive voter turn-out in the next election, he said. “We will register every gun owner in the state.”
“We will dig our heels and take the politicians who voted for the SAFE Act out of office,” DiPietro said. “No one votes alone.”
“Democrats, Republicans, no one is happy with the SAFE Act,” said Lisa A. Bruno, a Stillwater town board member and employee with the state senate since 1999.
The upstate-downstate divide is part of the problem, she said. “Those of us north of New York City and Long Island oppose the new law.”
Republicans who broke ranks to join the Independent Democratic Conference in favor of the SAFE Act is downstate-driven, she said. “Other Republicans in the state fought hard to defeat it.”
The New York State Senate is comprised of 63 members; 30 Republicans, 28 Democrats, and four members of the IDC.
Bruno, who is also the chairman of the town of Stillwater Republican Party, said that Cuomo pushed the bill through in order to beat President Barack H. Obama Jr., to legislation, any legislation, regardless of the outcome.
Legal guns are used by responsible people who want to protect their families, she said. “Most guns involved in criminal activity are illegal.”
“We do not have the same inner city police-response-time, that other areas rely on,” she said.
“Saratoga County is open space and farms,” she said. “People love to hunt, they love their guns and they love their fishing-time.”
Saratoga County is 30 miles north of Albany, the state’s capitol, and is 160 miles north of New York City.
Bruno said that repeal efforts in the senate may be successful, but will have little or no impact on changing the law. “If the repeal bill passes in the Senate, it will go nowhere after that.”
An overwhelming majority of Democrats in the state’s assembly will not pass a repeal bill, and the governor will not sign it, she said. “Our hope is in the lawsuits pending and the courts determining the law unconstitutional.”
“What I call the un-SAFE act was pushed down everyone’s throat,” said Michael H. Zurlo, a retired 36-year law enforcement professional and Republican candidate for Saratoga County Sheriff.
“The public was never given the opportunity to interject comments,” he said. “The resulting cost will be a huge burden on the people.”
Leaving law enforcement out of the equation has its consequences, he said. “Sheriffs have a right to speak.”
The former town justice said if he was elected sheriff he would not secure weapons from innocent citizens. “I will leave that responsibility up to the state.”
Zurlo, who is an National Rifle Association member and instructor for the Municipal Police Training Council, said that like many sheriffs across the state, he supports the Second Amendment of the Constitution that affords us the right to bear arms.
The state’s sheriffs association filed legal papers in support of an action commenced by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association against New York State that claims the passage and enforcement of the SAFE Act is in violation of the U.S. and New York State Constitutions.
New York needs a common sense approach to gun laws that keeps our communities safe while upholding the Constitution, Zurlo said. “The un-SAFE Act is unworkable. We must move shoulder-to-shoulder together to repeal this law.”